Ohio growers can expect “excellent yields” from oats planted after wheat and into early harvested corn silage fields thanks to late-season rains and warmer-than-normal temperatures, says Stan Smith, an Ohio State University beef cattle expert.

That’ll be a boost to producers with low forage supplies after this year’s disastrous drought, he says .Although not abundant, the rains have provided enough moisture for oats planted to create as much late-growing forage as possible, Smith says.

“Timely showers and warmer-than-normal temperatures have caused oats to continue growing in many parts of the state, even through November.

"Those oats aren't dead yet because it takes a really hard freeze for several hours to kill oats, and we've just not experienced that yet in most parts of the state. Oats will likely remain green and alive for at least a few more weeks. It's been a good year to produce late forages."

Reports across the state indicate that oats are yielding 2-3 tons of dry matter per acre, Smith says. That’s compared to a hay harvest producing an average 3 tons/acre of dry matter.

Strip grazing is the preferred method of harvesting oats, but other options include:

• Chopping and ensiling. If grazing standing oats is not an option, the next best bet would be chopping and ensiling them into permanent structures or bags.

• Baling. This is a challenge, considering that oats dry only about half as fast as grass hay. In some cases, the crop needs a week after cutting to be properly wet-wrapped and ensiled. Dropping oats on wet soils doesn't enhance drying.

• Wet-wrapping. Using an in-line bale wrapper or tuber is less expensive per ton than individually wrapped bales if the equipment is available locally. Unless done properly, individual wrapping might cause more storage loss than wet-wrapping.

• Letting oats stand until they freeze. When a few days of dry, frozen weather arrive and the oats have dried and cured, quickly mow, rake and bale them.