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Planning to adapt to the 2022 season in England

Spring Barley
Spring barley early emergence

Spring is well and truly here, and spring barley drilling is well underway with many first nitrogen applications also applied.  With current buoyant prices, particularly for malting crops, it's worth considering risks in order to plan for a successful season.


In some areas in the country, early drilling before Christmas and into the new year was possible.  These crops will have had time to tiller out and may be quite lush now.  Early drilling can increase yield potential but brings with it a higher risk of disease.  Brown rust, Rhynchosporium and net blotch may be more prevalent in these crops and, although T0s aren’t usually necessary in spring barley drilled from late January onwards, early drilled spring barley should be monitored and treated if necessary.  An early application of a triazole or strobilurin can be used if rust infections are high, alternatively cyprodinil is effective against both Rhynchosporium and net blotch.

Lodging resistance is generally better in early drilled crops, due to greater rooting and slower growth, although a PGR programme may be advisable in very lush crops or when seed rates and nitrogen rates are high.


  • Rhynchosporium favours cool, wet conditions throughout spring and is often more prevalent in the West and North of England.
  • The whole of the country is at moderate risk of net blotch, which prefers wet and humid conditions.  It can be transferred by trash and on infected seed, so care should be taken with farm saved seed.
  • Brown rust likes warm temperatures, between 15 and 22 degrees and as such, is found more commonly in the South and East of England.
  • Ramularia is a late season disease, which often appears after the last fungicide application has been made, varietal resistance is unclear, and no official ratings are available for spring barley. It is generally found in Scotland and Northern England, although this is moving further south.

Weather conditions have been extremely variable over the last few years, with no crystal ball in March, planning to adapt PGR applications to conditions when they arise is a sensible approach.  Lodging risk increases in high biomass or late drilled spring barley crops, one MODDUS application, between GS30-32 will give the crop a good foundation and strengthen straw early on.  In very high-risk areas, a follow up ethephon-based application may be needed to reduce height and the risk of lodging later in the season.  Drought stress slows the growth of the crop and acts as a natural PGR, these conditions are often exacerbated on light soils.  In these situations, rates and timings can be adjusted to the season, PGRs should only be applied to actively growing crops.


All varieties on the AHDB RL 2022 have high resistance to mildew but are varied in their resistance to brown rust and Rhynchosporium.  LAUREATE has good overall resistance to each of these diseases with a long-term track record of high untreated yields, making it a solid performer on farm.  Some of the newer varieties have weaknesses to key diseases, so understanding these with in-season monitoring will help fungicide planning and applications. 

Please see adaptive disease management table below:

An early application of cyprodinil at the T1 timing in mixture with other modes of action is effective at reducing levels of both Rhynchosporium and net blotch in the crop. Prothioconazole remains the standard triazole for optimum Rhynchosporium control and the cornerstone to any barley fungicide programme.  For broad spectrum control, an SDHI + triazole combination such as ELATUS Era, would suit at either T1 or T2, and will give superior control of brown rust. 

Ramularia is a late season disease, with symptoms often appearing after the last fungicide application has been made.  Folpet, is a multi-site fungicide, and gives a useful reduction.  Ramularia is best controlled as part of a full fungicide programme maintaining healthy plants, with folpet applied at GS45 giving best activity. It is also key to reduce crop stress through the growing season to minimise expression of the disease.  Where a robust fungicide programme has been applied, the added benefit is the reduction in brackling risk due to increased cell strength in the canopy structure.

Keeping your spring barley crop clean and standing will protect both yield and grain quality, giving it the best chance to achieve optimum yield for feed crops and premiums for malting crops.  This is the last of our agronomy emails for spring barley this year, for more agronomy insights, check our website for in season updates.