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Wild Oat

Panicle of wild oat.
Wild oat at the stage of leaf development.
Wild oat in flower.
Wild oat with first true leaf.

Scientific Name

Avena fatua



Annual panicle grass.


A. fatua is widely distributed in North America and Australia (A. fatua and A. sterilis), in Europe mostly A. fatua, in Africa mostly A. sterilis. It is widespread in summer wheat production and due to a very high growth rate it greatly reduces yield. Because its comparable to wheat, it is very competitive; only 5 plants/ha (2 plants/a.) are tolerated on wheat seed propagation fields. Infested wheat seeds are difficult tot clean

Characteristic Features

Dense panicle, spikelets with 0-1 awn, florets (seeds) do not readily separate and shed.

Young Plant

The youngest leaf is rolled, leaf blades colored dark green, up to 40 cm (15.75 inch) and 4 - 18 mm (0.16 - 0.71 inch) wide.


Erect, plant height from 40 to 150 cm (15.75 - 59.05 inch).


The membraneous ligule is up to 6 mm (0.24 inch) long, often irregularly toothed (dentate, fringed). No auricles. Sheaths smooth or slightly hairy, especially in younger plants. Leaves are left screwed.

Propagatio Organs


Loose, open panicle with 2-3-flowered pedicelled spikelets. Lemmas end in 2 small teeth, 2-3 awns arising from the back, mostly dark-colored, bent and 3-4 cm (1.18 - 1.57 inch) long. Each of the 2-3 florets has an oval abscission scar at its base, causing them to fall separately.

Flowering Period



The grains are 6-8 mm (0.24 - 0.31 inch) long, rust-colored.


The main flush occurs in (early) spring. The seeds have little tolerance to frost, the dormancy is broken during the summer at high temperatures. They emergence from up to 10 cm (3.93 inch) soil depth.

Viability Of Seeds

Short living in soil (2-3 years).


Up to 100 seeds per plant. The seed production declines with increasing crop competition.

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