Grains Research and Development

Wild oats

Wild oats (Avena spp.)


Mature wild oat plant
(Photo A. Storrie)

Wild oats (black oats) tend to grow in discrete patches at low to moderate densities (up to 100 plants/m2).

The seedling leaves are twisted anticlockwise, the opposite direction to wheat and barley. Wild oats have a large ligule with no auricles and the leaves tend to be hairy with a slight bluish hue. The emerging leaf is rolled.

Wild oat seeds are usually dark but can vary through to cream. Hairiness of seeds also varies.

Factors that make Wild oats a major weed:

  • Highly competitive
  • Produce a large number of seeds
  • Can easily develop resistance to herbicides
  • Avoids early herbicide applications through later germinations
  • Represents a large cost to cropping
  • Easily spread as contaminants of grain, hay and machinery
  • Acts as a host for a number of important cereal diseases and pests

Further detail about this weed including integrated weed management tactics that could be considered when developing a management plan can be found in the section on problem weeds in the Integrated Weed Management Manual.

Further information

Ecology and biology of common weeds are outlined in section 6 of the Integrated Weed Management Manual.  

Update papers

Strategies for optimising the life of Group A herbicides and patterns of herbicide resistance in wild oats. (2011)

Herbicide resistance in annual ryegrass and wild oats (2008)

Managing wild oats with resistance to groups A, B and Z (2008)


Other information

Managment of wild oats and paradoxa grass with reduced dependence on herbicides (1998)  S. Walker et al. Ninth Australian Agronomy Conference