Oats Growing Guide

Avena sativa


Crop Rotation Group



Any average, well drained soil.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Oats are a cool-weather crop that can tolerate light frosts but is usually killed by temperatures below 5F (-15C).


None generally needed, especially when oats are grown with nitrogen-fixing cover crops such as winter peas, winter beans or hairy vetch.


Single Plants: 3" (10cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 3" (10cm) with 3" (10cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Sow in late summer to grow a cover crop that forms its own mulch when it is winterkilled, or when using oats as a companion crop for slower-growing legumes. Oats also can be grown as a spring cover crop to increase soil organic matter. Broadcast seed into cultivated soil so that the seeds are about 3 inches (7 cm) apart and one-half inch (1 cm) deep. No thinning is required. Increase spacing to 8 inches (20cm) apart when growing oats with other cover crops.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Oats are an ideal late summer cover crop where winters are cold enough to kill it; the dead residue forms its own winter mulch, which is usually well rotted by spring.


Young oats can be turned under anytime. In mild winter climates, oats should be mowed and tilled before seedheads appear in late spring.


Rotting oat foliage has herbicidal properties, in that it inhibits germination of weed seeds. Always wait 3 weeks before sowing seeds into soil where oats have been turned under.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

< Back to All Plants

Pests which Affect Oats