The Country Diary of a GenX Woman

Tiller the Oats

20130714 054I learned a new word today, well an old word with a different meaning.  I was in the ag supply shop discussing planting options for meadow hay next year in addition to the oaten hay.  When asked if I had grazed this year’s oats yet, I said I didn’t have any sheep  and didn’t want to let the horses in as they would probably churn it up and probably explode or founder with all the lush green.   He suggested we could fence off a small bit and try the horses, as we could significantly increase our yield if we tillered the oats.   If you let animals in to graze the tops off after the 4 leaf stage, you disrupt a  hormone in the plant which then triggers the growth of additional stems.   You are trying to disrupt the apical dominance, which makes the plant grow as tall as possible as quickly as possible to maximise its exposure to the sun.    The apical bud produces a hormone that inhibits the growth of most or all the lateral buds further down on the stem.  When the apical bud is removed, the lowered hormone concentration allows the lateral buds to grow and produce new shoots, which then compete to become the lead growth.  The number of tillers formed depends on density of seeding, variety and growing conditions, but can number up to 30!

According to wikipedia: It was first discovered that the plant hormone auxin likely regulates apical dominance in 1934.

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