Oat Life Cycle

Oats are annual grasses.
Oats are annual grasses. (Image: Oat image by Dennis Kornilov from Fotolia.com)

Oats are a species of erect annual grasses of the genus Avena. There are a variety of cultivated and wild species. The life cycle of an oat plant is similar to that of any other annual grass, including germination, growth, flowering, pollination and seed-setting.

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Oat seeds germinate in spring, with a second less fecund germination in fall. Depending on temperatures, germination can take one to three weeks. Warmer temperatures encourage faster germination. Optimum germination temperature ranges from 16 to 22 degrees Celsius.


Immediately following germination, root and shoot growth is slow. Two weeks after germination, growth accelerates. The plant's shoot is called a "tiller," a term which also describes the act of growing a shoot. Oat plants take one month to fully tiller.


Oats flower in early July, and last for up to six weeks. Each of the plant's spikelets produce three to seven small flowers.


Seeds can ripen progressively from the top of the plant to the bottom, or simultaneously. Upon ripening, seeds split open, or shatter.

Harvesting and Propagation

Wild oats drop their seeds in mid-August, which germinate the next season, or remain dormant until advantageous environmental conditions arise. If a cultivated variety, seeds are harvested prior to seed shedding, and the life cycle interrupted


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