CROPS WATCH UPDATE: Winter barley on track to produce high yields

In the sixth part of the Crops Watch series – a collaborative crop monitoring programme between AgriLand, TerraChem and Nolan Farming – we assess the progress of winter and spring barley crops.

We visited Kevin Nolan’s farm where he is growing a crop of winter barley. In a previous article, we looked at the Quadra winter barley crop; it’s a six-row variety that received a total nitrogen application of 225kg/ha.

In the third part of the Crops Watch series, TerraChem’s Crop Protection Specialist, John Mulhare, discussed the crop’s T1 spray application of fungicide, plant growth regulator (PGR) and nutrient.

On viewing the crop on June 13, Mulhare said that all of the spray applications were complete, with the final application of Proline (0.4L/ha), Credo (1L/ha) and an additional 1L/ha of SulfaMag ALOY having been applied just before the head fully emerged.

The crop today can only be described as “clean to the ground” with a full canopy free of disease.

“Given our approach to the fungicide programme on winter barley, this is the result we expected, as front loading the programme with a heavy T1 fungicide is the only guaranteed way to deliver a canopy free of disease from the ground up.

“This helps facilitate maximum tiller survival and the production of sufficient heads and grain sites for optimum yield to be achieved.

“It’s all about making money after all and only clean, green crops grow grain.”

Mulhare added: “Despite the initial appearance of the crop being quite short this season, due to the growth conditions in March and April, winter barley has displayed significant ‘bounce back growth’ in the late-stem extension stage.

“The Terpal application (1L/ha) at growth stage 39 now appears to have been just enough, with the crop now considerably taller than expected but with stems as strong as bamboo canes.

The second application of Cereal ALOY also did an excellent job at removing any lingering signs of manganese and zinc deficiencies in some small patches of the crop and the yield expectation is still very high.

Spring barley

Mulhare and Nolan – of Nolan Farming – also looked at a crop of spring barley growing on Nolan’s farm. The variety examined was Irina and it was established using min-till techniques.

Pig slurry was incorporated with a disc immediately after spreading to supply the crop with 71kg/ha of nitrogen, 27kg/ha of phosphorous and 88kg/ha of potassium.

Granular nitrogen was also applied to bring the total nitrogen applied to 175kg/ha – having made allowances for yield expectations.

In the fourth part of the Crops Watch series, Mulhare discussed the spray programme for the crop. This included applications of Ally Ultra, Starane, Lambda, K2, Talius and Cereal ALOY.

Heavy rain after the last visit delayed the application of some inputs, Mulhare said, meaning that weeds had grown considerably at the time of application.

“An acceptable job was still done and the only concern, at present, is the noticeable level of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) present in the crop.

Though mild compared to many late-sown spring crops, BYDV is always a concern where visible and is an ever-increasing worry.

“Late-sown crops this season are particularly affected and the decision taken by many to hold off on applying an early aphicide on its own, choosing rather to apply it later when the crop was ready for herbicide, may prove a costly decision this year,” he said.

Though Nolan’s crop of Irina has BYDV symptoms visible on some leaves, Mulhare said, it’s sporadic enough that any yield impact should be minimal.

“Had the insecticide been delayed by the five days between its actual application date and the subsequent fungicide application five days later, the BYDV infection may have been significantly worse,” Mulhare said.

While many growers may choose the latter option due to the elimination of a pass of the sprayer and associated costs, Mulhare highlighted that this level of detail in applying inputs is where higher yields are made or lost – and that’s where the profit is.

With the awns just peeping on the crop at the time of visiting on June 13, the timing is right to apply the final T2 fungicide over the coming days.

“The same chemicals and rates are used as on the final winter barley fungicide, using Proline at 0.4L/ha, Credo at 1L/ha and SulfaMag ALOY at 1L/ha.

“In fact, the approach of using a SDHI-based spray at T1 and a strob-based spray at T2 is also a common thread across winter and spring crops. It works and it also simplifies purchasing,” Mulhare said.

For a grower like Nolan with significant acreage to cover, it helps that he is using Credo as the T2 on both winter and spring crops as he then needs to buy and stock a smaller product range, according to Mulhare.

He added that with the likes of Treoris – which the pair used at T1 on both winter and spring barley – the advantage is much greater because this product is also the SDHI backbone on the winter wheat T1 and T2, as well as the spring wheat T2.

“It may not matter for everyone but all these little details make things that bit more streamlined for the grower, from purchasing right through to application. In today’s world of cross compliance requirements, the less products you end up with in the spray store at year end, the better,” Mulhare said.