Last year we received the following question:
“I have some questions about no-tilling Haywire Forage Oats into a weak alfalfa (30%) and orchardgrass (60%) stand.
Will the oats grow fast enough to stay ahead of the hay crop?
Will the oats mature when the hay is ready?
When is the proper time to top dress with nitrogen?”
When it comes to no-tilling Haywire Forage Oats into a thin, older hay field, you might expect mixed results. We’ve seen it work and we’ve also seen a train wreck. It really depends on the weather.
So, if the weather cooperates, here is a recommendation that may give you the best success.
No-till 70-100 lb/A of Haywire oats ¾”-1” deep just as the alfalfa is starting to green up.
Once the oats emerge you could top dress 30 lb/A of nitrogen. Ideally a ratio of 75% urea and 25% ammonium sulfate is the most effective nitrogen source for oats. If the oats get ahead of the orchardgrass, then you will have good success; however, the orchardgrass can be competitive.
The oats usually take about 60 days from emergence to maturity. For the best forage quality, harvest when the oats are in the late boot stage.