Wild oat control in winter wheat
Wild oat is very competitive. Researchers from several states have presented information about the wild oat problem, indicating that heavy infestations could reduce wheat yield by one-third. Results from tests in Texas from 1991 to 1994 indicate wheat yield reduction as high as 80 percent. One wild oat head per square foot reduced wheat yield 6 percent, and the average wild oat plant can produce 3 to 6 heads. In badly infested fields, wild oat heads exceeded 25 per square foot and resulted in severe yield reductions.
Wild oat seed may lie dormant for up to 6 years if left near the soil surface. If worked deeply into the soil, seed may remain dormant for many years. Deep plowing does not rid an area of wild oat; it only prolongs the problem.
Wild oat is being spread in Texas in these ways:
- Planting seed contaminated with wild oat seeds. The Texas seed law allows up to 300 wild oat seed per pound of commercial seed, so simply purchasing seed does not ensure that it is wildoat-free.
- Moving combines and other equipment from infested fields to clean fields. Many fields have a strip of wild oat around the edge and none in the center. As the combine moves across the field, wild oat seed is carried with it. In addition, seeds of wild oat are carried easily from field to field by other farm equipment.
- Wind and water moving across fields.
- Birds and fur-bearing animals transporting seeds as they move.