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Establishing a strong spring barley crop

Agronomy Issues
Spring barley early emergence

After another wet autumn and cold winter, spring is just around the corner and healthy seed is key to establishing a strong spring barley crop.  For farm saved seed, germination should be tested as a minimum in order to calculate seed rates correctly. Certified seed germination figures can be found on the bag.  Seed treatments can protect the crop against common seed-borne diseases such as loose smut and leaf stripe. 

VIBRANCE DUO is now approved for use in malting barley and is a good choice for protecting the crop from seed- and soil-borne diseases.  Syngenta recommends that VIBRANCE DUO is co-applied with a loose smut active partner such as Rancona i-Mix, to ensure class-leading disease control.  Trials have shown the same rooting benefits seen in wheat are visible in winter and spring barley.  This improved rooting sets the crop up for the entire season, making it a more resilient crop to withstand cold wet seedbeds and hotter drier springs.  

Different varieties are suitable for different end uses, getting the nitrogen right is key to gaining premiums for malting barley. 

  • LAUREATE and SY TUNGSTEN are suitable for both brewing and malt distilling, so be sure to check the range of % grain N required by the local maltster.
  • SY SPLENDOR has provisional approval for brewing only, contracts will usually specify a % grain N for domestic brewing.
  • FAIRING is the only approved grain distilling variety in the UK and will have high N contracts in different regions of Scotland and England, check locally for these contracts.



Local contracts will specify the % grain nitrogen required along with other criteria such as screenings and specific weights.  Tailoring nitrogen inputs in both rates and timings will help to achieve the require specification:

  • Low nitrogen contracts below 1.65%: Lower total N required, Syngenta trials found no significant difference in yield or % grain nitrogen between applying 100% in the seedbed or in 2 splits, applied before GS15.
  • UK domestic brewing contracts between approximately 1.6 and 1.75%: Two splits will help to achieve the higher % grain N. Follow RB209 guidance on splits and timings.
  • High nitrogen contracts above 1.85%:  Syngenta trials showed increasing total nitrogen has the biggest impact on grain nitrogen, but a later application can also help to boost it.

It is important to adapt to the crop as the season progresses.  Establishment rates and nitrogen applications will directly impact management of the crop canopy later in the year.  PGRs and Fungicides will all need to be tailored to the season to keep the crop healthy and standing.

Find our more on varieties and agronomy in our Spring Guide.

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