Black oat is a cool season, winter annual grass that was historically grown throughout Europe on poor-marginal ground. With the crop being nearly eradicated in Europe, there's been an effort to save as much of genetic diversity that remains for this excellent crop. Black oat is now one of the most important cover crop species.
Black Oats can reach 2.5-5 ft in height with blades that are 1.5-2 times as wide than common oat cultivars. These broader leaves allow for increased solar capture, rapid tillering and out competing weed species.
Sowing rate: 80 to 120kg / hectare 1kg per 100m2
Black oat is a valuable forage crop. It has earlier growth and a shorter production cycle than ryegrass, high DM productivity and a high nutritive value with good protein content. Black oat is a valuable cover crop used either as a summer cover crop or as a winter cover crop.
Black oat can be grown for forage only of for forage and grain. Its dense root system is beneficial to soil texture. Black oat used to be cultivated in northern Scotland as human food (grain) and for animal feeding as pasture, hay or grain but is now cultivated mostly in South America.
Black oat can be grown on waste water from which it removes nutrients and thus reduces organic load. it is reported to extract Cd (heavy metal) from the soil as well.
Black oat is a diploid Avena species and has great potential for the maintenance of biodiversity among oats and for breeding programmes.
Establishement and associations: Black oat can be sown alone or in combination with grasses such as:
- Italian ryegrass Lolium multiflorum,
- elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureul)
- legumes such as berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum)
- stylo (Stylosanthes spp.)
- (Arachis pintoi)
- vetch (Lathyrus or Vicia spp.)
In Brazil, Avena strigosa is generally cultivated in pure stands or associated with Italian ryegrass or legumes and used as pasture.
Yield Black oat yields about 3-8 t DM/ha
Pasture and cut-and-carry
Black oat can be grazed or cut and then chopped and stall-fed (fresh) (Moderate grazing should be done to improve forage production and animal performance. Black can be grazed rotationnally during short periods (1-3 days) by high producing animals that are kept out during 30 days before reentering the sward. Under such system, black oat should not be grazed or cut below 7 cm in height.
Hay and silage
Black oat may be cut at the vegetative stage and dried to make hay or silage. Prior wilting is recommended for silage production due to high water content, low soluble carbohydrates and high buffering power that prevents pH drop. The use of bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and/or enzymes may improve silage quality.
Black oat is a valuable cover crop used as a winter cover crop in places where frost does not occur. It tillers readily, providing good soil coverage. Black oat produces higher mineral N than other cover crop like rye. Black oat has a good C:N ratio that is favourable for soil N management. Black oat is efficient at translocating soil phosphorus.
Black oat prevents the developement of broadleaf weeds. In the USA, it could control 34% weeds while other cover crops such as rye only controlled 26%, and wheat controlled 19% in conservation tillage cotton. Though it has been reported to have some allelopathic effect, the use of black oat as a cover crop had a better effect on next crop than rye.
Black oat is reported to have nematicidal effect. As a cover crop, black oat was shown to be resistant to or inhibit root-knot nematode (Lima et al., 2009). The use of black oat as a fallow crop before strawberry cultivation reduced more efficiently nematodes lesions than sorghum-Sudan grass or common oats (Dial, 2014). Some breeding programmes aim at selecting nematode suppressing black oats