ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

What oat varieties should I use?

Posted June 2, 2005

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

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Dear Jeff,

Regarding your recent column in New Farm, I'm thinking of trying oats on a spare 15 acres here on eastern Long Island. It's been cover-cropped for three years and is in good shape.

What variety/varieties do you use? I see you drill it, but I might broadcast and roll it in. I guess you harvest with a combine (I'd have to contract that out).

Thanks for your time and good advice.
Peter Garnham

Dear Peter,

The variety we are currently planting is called ‘Blaze.’ Before switching to this variety, we were planting ‘Ogle.’ I'd check with your county extension agent to see what variety might do best for you under your own local conditions. One thing to consider is your planting date. For us here in eastern Pennsylvania--and you should be about the same--the target date is late March.

Oats like cool soil to germinate in. That's one of the beauties of most small grains; they do best in the cooler weather of spring or fall. You might want to cover crop the field for the summer, then try wheat in the fall (planted in early October), or wait until spring and plant the oats. You could plant soybeans now, get them off, and still have time to plant any of the small grains - rye, wheat or oats. I don't know your situation or the time and equipment you have available to you. If you have any more specific questions, I'll do my best to answer them if you email back.

Good luck,


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