Winter Barley Key Agronomy Guidelines – The Basics!

Plant Population – It’s a numbers game….

  • When compared to Wheat, Barley cannot compensate fully for lack of ears, therefore aim for 300-330 established plants per m2.
  • This can mean a high seed rate for varieties with a large grain size.e.g. Tower, TGW=60g. Establishment rate=80%. Target 320 plants/m2.
  • Sowing Rate = 217kg/Ha or 13.8stn/acre

Preventing Bydv

Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) is a most damaging infection in winter barley, and can reduce yields by 30% if not treated. With the loss of Redigo Deter seed dressing, the use and correct timing of insecticides along with cultural methods such as later planting and minimising the green bridge threat become ever more important.
Plant breeders are also close to developing and introducing new varieties that will be resistant to BYDV infection (not just tolerant) which will be a great step forward – watch this space!!.

Early Nitrogen

– February application to build a bulky crop of stems and leaf (barley fills its grain from leaf & stem reserves).

Barley ideally needs ALL of its N applied by the end of tillering/start of stem extension. This can mean the first N (40-50 units/ac) is to be applied in mid-February in the South of the country. 7-10 days later further North.
Don’t forget Sulphur and Manganese etc. A mild autumn/winter can create extra demand for Trace Elements (especially Mn) as plants try to grow with limited root systems.
Apply CCC early, once growth commences – a cheap tool to maintain tiller numbers, this early CCC not only helps tiller survival but it also evens out tiller size for the season, thus easing spray timing decisions and making ripening more uniform.

Disease Control

Obviously variety choice and sowing date will have a big impact on potential disease pressure.
Trials show that early fungicide application (mid-late tillering) is vital for good yields where disease pressure is high. The application of 2 x SDHI based
fungicides partnered with a good triazole is recommended, together with the inclusion of Chlorothalonil (CTL) at the T2 / T3 timings.
Early infection of Ramularia was observed in some crops in spring 2017, this suggests that there is a case for adding CTL in the T2 fungicide application as opposed to just in the final spray.
There may be more scope to delay this first spray in newer cleaner varieties (e.g. KWS Infinity) in some situations.

Grass Weeds

Beware of grass weeds such as Sterile Brome, Meadow Brome, Black Grass etc in winter barley. There are no chemical control options for these in winter barley. Pay particular attention to headlands where populations of
such weeds can increase rapidly.
Good cultural practice is vital – clean seed, rotation with spring crops/non cereal break crops, stale seed beds post-harvest, hand-rogueing, good
ploughing and avoid dragging grass out from hedges.