Oats are sown in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. An early start is crucial to good yields as oats will go dormant during the summer heat. Oats are cold-tolerant and will be unaffected by late frosts or snow. Typically about 100 kg/hectare (about 2 bushels per acre) are sown, either broadcast or drilled in 150 mm (6 inch) rows. Lower rates are used when underseeding with a legume. Somewhat higher rates can be used on the best soils with some varieties. Excessive sowing rates will lead to problems with lodging and may reduce yields with some varieties. Buy the variety that's best suited to your soil.
Some farmers are experimenting planting oats and winter rye together as a forage or plow down cover crop.
Winter oats may be grown as an off-season groundcover and plowed under in the spring as a green fertilizer.
Oats remove substantial amounts of nitrogen from the soil. If the straw is removed from the soil rather than being ploughed back, there will also be removal of large quantities of potash which can be replaced with the use of Jersey Greensand or some Meta-K. Rotate with legumes to restore nitrogen levels in the soil.
Usually 50-100 kg/hectare (50-100 pounds per acre) of nitrogen is needed. A sufficient amount of nitrogen is particularly important for plant height and hence straw quality and yield. When the prior-year crop was a legume, or where ample manure is applied, nitrogen rates can be reduced somewhat. Rotating a bean or pea crop or planting companions are a good idea if you don't need a pure stain of oats for cutting.
The vigorous growth habit of oats will tend to choke out most weeds. A few tall broadleaf weeds, such as ragweed, goosegrass and buttonweed (velvetleaf), can be a problem occasionally especially as they complicate harvest. Good cultivation practices, timing the planting and careful attention to soil fertility and pH can minimize this problem.