Ron Granger, Limagrain UK’s arable technical manager, revisits the key agronomic principles for the best establishment of the barley crop, and for maintaining high tiller counts for optimal yields.

  1. Know the end market or contract that you are growing for to help determine agronomic inputs i.e. hitting desirable grain nitrogen.
  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 to wait for when both weather and/ or soil conditions allow for good seedbed preparation for rapid emergence and establishment.
    1. Earlier drilling in the spring can encourage higher yields when in lighter, free draining land but increases disease risk so choose varieties with strong disease resistance.

  4. Seed rate: for higher tillering varieties the optimum seed rate is 350 seeds/m2 when drilling in ideal conditions around mid-March. This can be adjusted depending on
    • weather
    • drilling date
    • seedbed quality
    • moisture availability and perhaps most importantly
    • the 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 are critical in securing final tiller survival.

    The AHDB Barley Growth Guide suggests that the final ear target population should be around 775/m2 (3 shoots/plant), but is underachieved in many situations impacting on final yields.
  6. Nitrogen and tiller numbers
    1. Limagrain trials show that higher yields without exceeding grain nitrogen can be achieved using nitrogen rates of 150 kg/ha, based on a split nitrogen application of a standard 120 kg/ha in the seedbed, plus an additional 30 kg/ha at tillering, when compared to a standard seedbed application of 120 kg/ha.
    2. Higher yielding varieties respond well to higher nitrogen levels, as nitrogen grain content dilution is achievable. Additional nitrogen input can be beneficial on better soils, and should be targeted early, but beware on lighter soils that are more prone to stress.

  7. Pay attention to macro and micro nutrition.
  8. Early PGR applications programmes are recommended on thick crops to promote additional rooting and strong uniform tillering and and a minimum of two fungicides to keep the plant healthy.



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