8th February 2022

10 top tips for ensuring high spring barley yields

Sienna spring barley

1. Know the end market or contract that you are growing for

This helps determine agronomic inputs for hitting desirable grain nitrogen content.

2. Choose the right variety

Usually determined by the end-use or contract chosen. LG Diablo is the highest yielding, dual-use variety* which means it can be used for either brewing or distilling.

3. Time of drilling

Patience is needed in the spring. Wait for when weather, soil conditions and temperature allow for good seedbed preparation, to encourage rapid emergence and establishment. a. Earlier drilling in the spring can encourage higher yields when on lighter, free draining land as a result of increased root and canopy size development. b. Disease risk may increase, so choose varieties with a stronger disease resistance.

4. Seed rate

Seed rate: for higher tillering varieties, the optimum seed rate is 350 seeds/m2 when drilling in ideal conditions around mid-March. This target can be adjusted depending on • Weather • Soil temperature • Drilling date • Seedbed quality • Moisture availability • Growers’ own experience on individual sites. When forced to drill into April, push rates up to 400-450 seeds/m2

5. Maintaining high tiller numbers

High final tiller or ear counts are critical for achieving high yield potential. An early balanced crop nutrition regime, encouraging better rooting and canopy development, play a critical role in securing final tiller survival.

6. Nitrogen and tiller numbers

a. Limagrain trials show that to achieve higher yields without exceeding grain nitrogen, 150 kg/ha nitrogen based on a split nitrogen application of a standard 120 kg/ha in the seedbed, plus an additional 30 kg/ha at tillering, is the best approach – when compared to a standard seedbed or split 50/50 nitrogen application of 120 kg/ha. b. Higher yielding varieties respond well to higher nitrogen levels, as nitrogen grain content dilution is achievable. Additional nitrogen input can be beneficial on better soil types and should be targeted for early canopy development, thus ensuring high final ear number – but beware on lighter soils regarding nitrogen timing in stress situations, when plant uptake is limiting.

7. Micro and macro nutrition

Pay attention to macro and micro nutrition for establishment, crop health and ensuring a high final tiller number

8. PGR’s

Early PGR applications programmes are recommended on thick crops, to promote additional rooting and strong uniform tillering.

9. Fungicides

Limagrain trials work suggests a minimum of two fungicides for maximum yield potential. If the season dictates low disease incidence , then a fungicide timing at the T2 G( S37-39) stage, may be satisfactory.

10. Harvesting

Harvesting of the crop when fully fit is advisable, to reduce lodging and brackling, and the effects on both yield and grain quality when weather conditions deteriorate. If using a desiccant, ensure the correct growth stage and harvest intervals are observed.  

AHDB Barley Growth Guide

The AHDB Barley Growth Guide suggests that the final ear target population should be around 775/m2 (3 shoots/plant), however this is often underachieved, impacting on final yields.  

*on AHDB RL 21/22

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