I've planted oats numerous times in the garden as a cover crop and it always seemed like they were pretty easy to grow. In the garden, I could just buy a bag of cheap feed oats, broadcast them willy-nilly all over the garden, run the tiller over them real quick, and they'd grow like nobody's business.
Based on that experience in the garden, three years ago I planted about 35 acres of oats into some grain sorghum stubble in late-February. I was planning on baling a bunch of hay, or if I really lucked out, I
was going to harvest part of the field for either grain or as seed. I did almost everything right, bought some actual seed oats, had good soil moisture, didn't have any weed issues in the field, and used the drill to plant them. From what I'd read, oats didn't need a lot of added fertility to get a good grain yield, where supposed to be relatively disease resistant, and made halfway decent hay.
That field of oats was a complete failure, they only grew about a foot tall, and most of it had a rust problem. I still don't know what exactly went wrong, but it was unusually hot and dry that spring (it was the beginning of the 2012 drought ) which might have been a major factor. It was so short that I didn't even try baling any of it and just turned the cattle out on it to get a little bit of grazing.
I haven't had a chance to try growing oats again since that failure, but decided to plant a small part of the field that I planted to sorghum-sudangrass last summer and grazed this winter, so I can figure out how to grow oats since they would fit in well with my long term plans for the farm with growing cover crops, grazing cattle and stockers, finding crop rotations to go along with no-till, and planting wildlife food plots for the deer and turkeys.
After that long winded explanation, I have about 80-90 days before I'll plant this field to grain sorghum, so I have a window to try planting some oats as a cover crop or hay crop. Until I'm sure I can reliably grow oats (or anything else that I haven't grown before) I've decided that I'm going to start smaller, so I planted a little over three acres with about 60 lb. of oats and 1 lb. of turnips per acre.
It's pretty difficult to get edge-of-your-seat photos of some guy no-tilling some oats into some sorghum-sudangrass stubble, but I managed to get two photos that sort of show what a no-tilled field of oats and turnips looks like before anything has started growing. It is a little interesting how weed-free and mellow the soil is after cattle have grazed this field of sorghum-sudangrass this winter.