Wild Oat

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Wild Oat


(Avena fatua), an annual plant of the family Gramineae. The erect stems are 0.5–1.2 m tall. The leaves are flat, and the lemmas are usually pubescent. The panicle is up to 30 cm long and has large two- or three-flowered spikelets. The flowers are jointed at the base; the ripe grains are easily shed. The lower lemma has a long, strongly bent, twisted awn.

Wild oats were first distributed in Eurasia and North Africa and later spread to North America and the southern hemisphere. In the USSR, wild oats are found almost everywhere. Wild oats grow as weeds predominantly among spring crops (oats, barley, and wheat). The wild oat plant is difficult to eradicate. It reproduces only by seeds: one plant yields as many as 600 grains. The plant severely depletes the soil, contaminates seed material, and lowers grain quality. It crossbreeds readily with oats, impairing the latter’s purebred qualities. In ground form, the young grass and grains of the wild oat plant serve as good feed for livestock. The species A. septentrionalis, A. meridionalis, and A. cultiformis are also called wild oat. They are all pernicious weeds of agricultural crops, especially of oats.

Fields heavily contaminated with wild oat should be left fallow or be sown with late spring crops (corn, millet, buckwheat). Less frequently, the fields are sown with early spring crops (wheat, barley), but sowing is done later than normal. The fields should undergo shallow post-harvest plowing of the stubble, cultivation, pre-planting treatment, and plowing to depths of 24–27 cm. The wild oats, during grain shedding, should be mowed along the margins of fields and along roads. The fields may be treated with herbicides, and planting material may be decontaminated.


Mal’tsev, A. I. Ovsiugi i ovsy. Leningrad, 1930.
Kott, S. A. Sornye rasteniia i bor’ba s nimi, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1961.


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