I am passionate about growing organic produce and I decided to grow oats for my family, animals and maybe extra for friends or bartering at farmers’ markets. I am new bloomer—never farmed before. With all the information about prepping the garden and controversy over tilling versus no-tilling, what do you recommend? What kind of oats do you recommend? Also, how do you spread the seed? Do you plant oats in long rows or cluster plots? I live in southeastern Indiana and I really appreciate any information you can offer. Spring is just around the corner and I need to make some decisions.
Welcome to farming. Glad to have you aboard. Oats are a crop that you can plant early in spring, preferably in March if the soil and weather allow. I would suggest that you till the soil as soon as possible. Typically oats are planted in fields using a grain drill to establish them in 7- or 8-inch rows. When this is done early in the season the oats can germinate and grow with very little interference from us as farmers. That means you'll need to get all your fertilizer or soil amendments in place before you till the soil. A soil test will help you decide if additional crop nutrients are needed.
Oats are usually harvested with a combine in field situations but in smaller plots they can be harvested by hand in early to mid-July then taken to an area where you can thresh them out. If they are for human consumption you'll need to hull them. This can be done by rubbing them between two rough surfaces that roll the hulls of the seed. Southern Exposure Seeds has instructions on making a dehuller attachment for a hand-crank grain mill. Or, you could always plant hulless oats. Good luck.