Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Oat Field

Sowing oats

I plan on running a photo of an oat field just southwest of Lester Prairie, every week until harvest.

The field was planted Good Friday, April 14 and sprouted small shoots of green blades a couple of weeks ago.

The field is near the south fork of the Crow River, making the soil sandy and the crop sensitive to dry, hot weather.

Every week in this column, and online at, you will be able to chart the growth and development of the crop, from its early beginning stages to its golden stalk and head, and eventual harvest in August.

Week 13 photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Week 13

The oats were harvested July 28 and 29 and the straw was bailed Aug. 1. Now the 12 acre field bordering the south fork of the Crow River is bare, and only grain stubble remains. The field generated a large amount of straw and some place between 50 to 60 bushels of oats per acre.

Week 12 photo taken Tuesday, July 25.

Week 12

The oat field, which was planted April 14, was cut or swatted Tuesday, July 25. At the time of cutting, the oats were a golden brown with full heads.

Week 11 photo taken Friday, July 21.

Week 11

At this point in time the oat field is maturing and turning to a beautiful golden color. Harvest could be as little as two weeks away. The above photo was taken Friday, July 21.

Week 10 photo taken Friday, July 14.

Week 10

Sandy soil, another stretch of dry, hot weather, and the high winds and heavy rain Thursday evening all added up to bad news for the oat field. This photo was taken Friday, July 14 and shows severe lodging of plants. If you look hard, you can see an entire section of the field that is down. Hopefully, the oats will recover. At this time, it doesn’t look like it will be a bumper crop. The combination of sandy soil, stretches of dry weather during seed and head development, along with the lodging will add up to a lot of straw and not very many oats. However, the pheasants that nested in the field are doing great, and I routinely see deer, raccoon, rabbits, and an occasional red fox around the field.

Week 9 photo taken Thursday, July 6.

Week 9

This photo was taken July 6, and shows the full oat field, and how it has filled out. Behind the trees is the south fork of the Crow River.

Week 8 photo taken Thursday, June 29.

Week 8

This photo was taken June 29, and shows just how hi the oat field has gotten over eight weeks.

Week 7 (below two) photos taken Thursday, June 22.

Week 7

These photos were taken June 22, and includes my 23-month-old son Ethan. A month ago, the plants barely covered his shoes and ankles. As you can see, the oats made a lot of progress last week. The plants now have heads and are as tall as Ethan. In Ethan’s hand is a goose feather. The geese that make the area near the oat field their seasonal and nesting home have started to molt and lose their feathers.

Week 7

Week 6 (below one) photo taken Friday, June 16.

Week 6

The oat field southwest of Lester Prairie has been a picture of slow, steady growth. The field was planted on April 14, and as of Friday, June 16 most plants were about 30 inches high. Last week, the oat field also made a good home for six to eight young raccoons. We’ll follow the progress of the field all the way to harvest, sometime in early August.

Week 5 (below one) photo taken Friday, June 9.

Week 5

This photo was taken Friday June 9. Note the shovel pushed into the soil of the oat field and you can tell that even with the dry weather the oats definitely made some progress in the past week. The plants grew another three to four inches and became much thicker. The field was also sprayed for weeds during the week. The oats were planted on April 14 and should be golden in color and ready for harvest in early August.

Week 4 (below one) photo taken Thursday, June 1.

Week 4

This photo, showing my lab Angus in the oat field that I have been writing about, was taken Thursday, June 1. Compared to last week, the oats filled out some and grew about one inch in height. It seems the dry, hot weather combined with the sandy soil, slowed the plants’ progress a little last week. The field was planted April 14, and has been growing for 50 days now. We’ll follow the field all the way to harvest.

Week 3 (below one) photo taken Thursday, May 25.

Week 3

This is our third week of watching the progress of an oat field southwest of Lester Prairie. This photo was taken Thursday, May 25, and now, many plants are nearing a foot tall. In just a few short weeks since our first week of photos, the plants grew three to four inches, and the entire field has filled out. We’ll watch the progress of the oats all the way through harvest, sometime in August.

(Below three) The second photos were taken Thursday, May 18.

Week 2

This is the second week of our series of photos charting the growth of an oat field southwest of Lester Prairie. The photos were taken Thursday, May 18. Since Friday, May 12, the oats have definitely made some progress. On May 18, the plants were about eight inches tall. The top photo shows a three-foot yard stick, which I will try and use every week. Below, my 21-month old son Ethan is standing in the field. By August, the oats could be well over his head.

Week 2

Week 2

(Below) The first photos were taken Friday, May 12.

Week 1

This is the first week of a series of photos of an oat field near Lester Prairie, along the south fork of the Crow River. Every week, we’ll run an updated photo of the field all the way up to harvest. The field was planted on Good Friday, April 14, and now boasts small green blades a few inches tall.

Week 1

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