Avena fatua

Scientific Name Avena fatua
Common Names English: (Spring) wild oat; German: Flughafer; French: Folle avoine
Description Annual panicle grass.


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 membranous 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.

Propagation 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 frost tolerance, the dormancy is broken during the summer at high temperatures. Main emergence happens from up to 10 cm (3.93 inch) soil depth, but occurs at low rates also much deeper soil layers.

Viability of Seeds

Short living in soil (2-3 years).


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



Avena fatua is a cosmopolitan grass.


Wild oat prefers most soils, like heavy, light, acid and alkaline, but is particularly troublesome in cereals on heavy soil.

Additional Crop Information

Other cereals, sugar beets.

Agricultural Importance

Wild oat 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 spring wheat production and due to its very high growth rate it greatly reduces yield. Because it develops similar to wheat, it is very competitive; only 5 plants/ha (2 plants/a.) are tolerated on wheat seed propagation fields. Infested wheat seed is difficult to clean.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Sowing clean crop seeds, stubble cultivation induces wild oat germination, deep soil tillage in winter results in seed mortality due to fatal germination and rotating with winter annual crop or forage crops mainly in areas with high infestation rates may control the weed.

Chemical Control

Most effectively controlled with ACCase inhibitors (fops and dims) or ALS inhibitors. However, resistance against both modes of action used by different classes of active substances marks an increasing challenge.

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