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Spring Barley Agronomy Update

Agronomy Issues
Spring Barley

Spring barley drilling is well underway, in some areas this started before Christmas, with the bulk of the crop starting to go in at the end of February.  Last year a larger proportion of the Spring Barley crop was drilled much later due to ‘the Beast from the East’.  With an earlier drilling date comes a greater risk of disease.  Factors to take into account when considering fertilisers, PGRS and disease management inputs are variety, location and drilling date.

Fertiliser inputs will depend on your previous cropping, variety and soil type.  However the main factor for consideration is the end market.  If your grain is being sold under contract for malting it will specify a % grain Nitrogen. Some varieties such as LAUREATE are approved for both brewing and malt distilling, so it is important to know what the target % grain Nitrogen is in order to tailor inputs accordingly.  As a guide, higher totals and later applications of Nitrogen will result in higher % grain N. 

The figures below show approximate values for brewing and malt distilling contracts:

Brewing: 1.6-1.8% grain N

Malt distilling: below 1.65% grain N

Carefully managing the growth of your spring barley crop is crucial keep it standing until harvest.  A PGR application at GS30-31, for example MODDUS 0.2l/ha can encourage tiller survival, improve stem strength and effectively manage the height of your crop to reduce the risk of lodging. Remember to always apply PGRs to actively growing and non-stressed crops.

Keeping on top of disease is key to prevent a reduction in yield or grain quality.  Early drilling will increase the risk of exposure to wet weather disease such as Rhynchosporium, with disease cycling faster in wet and humid conditions below 20oC.  Choosing a product at the early fungicide timing that contains cyprodinil, like Kayak, can be a great way to incorporate an alternative mode of action in your fungicide programme and manage mildew and Rhynchosporium with one input.