South Dakota is a leading oat producer in the United States. In 2014, 9.3 million bushels of grain were harvested from 100,000 acres according to the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"Oat is generally grown for grain and forage, and only spring type oat is adapted in South Dakota," said David Karki, SDSU Extension agronomy field specialist. "Oat is a cool season crop that responds well in cooler climates."

Karki said planting is recommended early in the spring or as soon as the ground can be worked. Minimum germination temperatures are about 35 Fahrenheit. "However, slightly higher soil temperature can speed-up germination and emergence," Karki said. "Planting early provides cooler climate for maximum tiller and panicle production. This practice also helps avoid high temperature stress during seed fill which can lead to smaller seed size."

Optimum seeding dates for oat in South Dakota can range from late March to late April (south to north).

Producing a successful crop starts with variety selection

Karki said certified seed usually assures a crop with desired yield, quality and other agronomic characteristics. "In addition to yield and quality, improved varieties also possess tolerance to common diseases and pests," he said.

Performance of common varieties and advanced breeding lines can be found by checking out the “Oat Variety Trial Results” at iGrow.org.

Seeding rates for grain production can vary from 2 to 2.5 bushels per acre depending upon the seed size. Rate can be marginally increased if seeding deep, late or into a rough seedbed. "On the other hand, seed rate can be slightly decreased if planting in low moisture ground," Karki said.

Similar seeding rates can be used for forage production (cultivar may differ). Recommended seeding depths are 1.5 to 2.5; seeding deeper than 2.5 inches may lead to significant stand reduction.

When making a fertility management plan, Karki strongly recommends a fall soil test and nitrogen (N) credit from the previous crop. "This may vary depending on the yield goal," he said. "For instance, to grow 100 bushel per acre oat, recommended N is: 1.3 x 100 (yield goal) - STN (soil test N) - LC (legume credit)," he said.

For fields grown to soybeans in the previous season 40 pound N per acre are credited.