Wild oats are a persistent and challenging grass weed in western Canada, significantly impacting crop yields and farming efficiency. Many populations have developed resistance to Group 1 and 2 herbicides, complicating control efforts.

A multi-pronged approach is essential to effectively manage wild oat populations in crops. Growers need a strategy that combines pre-emergence and in-crop herbicides, cultural practices, and integrated weed management to tackle wild oats in Canada.

The challenge: wild oats and herbicide resistance

Wild oats are a highly competitive weed, with each plant capable of producing up to 500 seeds.

They can emerge in flushes early in the growing season and can grow in a wide range of soil types and conditions, making them a formidable challenge for farmers. The development of herbicide resistance, particularly to Group 1 (ACCase inhibitors) and Group 2 (ALS inhibitors) chemistries, has further complicated control measures.

This resistance has necessitated the development and adoption of integrated weed management strategies that utilize multiple modes of action and agronomic practices.

weed management strategies
Integrated weed management strategies

In addition to chemical control, integrated weed management (IWM) strategies are essential for wild oat management. IWM combines cultural and mechanical, practices with herbicide use to create a robust and resilient weed management system.

Crop Rotation

Implementing diverse crop rotations can disrupt the life cycle of wild oats, reducing their prevalence over time. Rotating wheat with crops that utilize different herbicide modes of action and management practices helps prevent the buildup of resistant wild oat populations.

Competitive Crops

Planting competitive crops that establish quickly and grow densely can suppress wild oat growth by outcompeting them for light, water, and nutrients. Barley and canola are examples of crops that can effectively compete with wild oats.

Mechanical Control

Mechanical weed control methods can be integrated into weed management programs to reduce wild oat seed banks in the soil. These practices are particularly useful in fields with severe infestations.

Regular Monitoring and Scouting

Regular field scouting and monitoring are crucial for the early detection and management of wild oat populations. By identifying weed emergence patterns and herbicide performance, farmers can make informed decisions and adjust management practices accordingly.

Keep Records

Growers should keep track of what they’ve done in the past and keep it easily accessible for planning next year. Understanding what worked well and what didn’t can lead to a successful future crop management plan and continued effective use of grass weed herbicides.

Pre-emergence herbicide application

Fierce EZ is a valuable tool in the battle against wild oats. The soil active herbicide provides up to eight weeks of residual activity against wild oat flushes by managing seedlings as they emerge, making it an effective component of a multi-pronged approach.

Applying Fierce EZ in the fall or spring ahead of seeding wheat, pulses or soybeans helps reduce early weed pressure, allowing the crop to established.

In-crop herbicide application

Once the crop is established, in-crop herbicide applications are necessary to address any remaining wild oats and other weeds. In cereals, Epic or Signal brands, paired with Oxbow or Enforcer herbicides provide in-crop control of grass and broadleaf weeds. For pulses, Ransack and Venim provide in-crop control of wild oats as well as other grass and broadleaf weeds.

These herbicides have a strong track record of controlling grass weeds, making them reliable choices for in-crop applications.  

Managing wild oats in Canada requires a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach. Utilizing Fierce EZ in the fall or spring provides residual activity against wild oat flushes, while in-crop applications can help manage late weed flushes. Integrated weed management practices, including crop rotation, competitive cropping, and mechanical control, further enhance the effectiveness of this strategy.