Video: Choose the right winter barley variety

Growers and agronomists selecting winter barley varieties for autumn sowing will carefully consider what variety to grow based on many different factors; not least of which is assessing how a variety performed at harvest on farms.

Another very important source of information is the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Winter Cereals Recommended List for 2019, which was published recently.

Generated from data across seven trial sites, Seedtech’s technical director Tim O’Donovan said: “It allows growers to confidently take the recommended list results as a reliable predictor of how a variety will perform on their farm.

All winter barley varieties are tested side-by-side across a range of sites from Co. Cork to Co. Louth.

“This allows the DAFM to assess a variety’s genetic merits independent of rotation, soil type and varying farm management practices,” he added.

O’Donovan urged farmers to use the recommended list to select winter barley varieties this autumn.

It’s important to pick a variety that performs consistently over many sites and seasons; the Department of Agriculture’s recommended list is the best way to do that.

Hybrid barley varieties Quadra, Belfry and Bazooka performed at the top of the 2019 recommended list based on yield, grain quality and straw characteristics.

Assessing Yield Potential

A reliable yield performance is the most important characteristic that growers use when assessing what variety to sow. Based on the 2019 recommended list, six-row barley varieties are out-yielding two-row barley varieties by a significant margin.

O’Donovan continued: “Taking Belfry hybrid barley for example and based on the recommended list results, a farmer deciding to grow 50ac of the variety would be better off by 15t compared to the nearest leading two-row variety.”

Assessing grain and straw quality

The second most important aspect for any farmer to consider when assessing a variety’s suitability should be grain and straw quality.

Hybrid barley varieties Quadra, Belfry and Bazooka have excellent KPH scores, all placing less that one score behind the leading two-row winter barley.

Speaking specifically about straw quality, O’Donovan added: “Having good-quality straw at harvest is very important for farmers. In the DAFM recommended list, Belfry and Bazooka in particular have proven themselves to be very resilient in terms of straw strength and straw breakdown.”

Assessing disease resistance profile

Disease, and in particular rhynchosporium and net blotch, can have a significant impact on yields due to Ireland’s wet weather conditions.

Hybrid barley has long been recognised as having an excellent disease resistance profile, with Bazooka and Belfry particularly resistant to rhynchosporium.

Concluding, O’Donovan said: “Quadra, Belfry and Bazooka each have an excellent all-round disease-resistance profile and, as a result, there are opportunities for farmers to cut back on their fungicide spend in the spring.”

Sowing hybrid barley

The sowing method of hybrid barley is no different to sowing conventional two-row barley; the only difference is a reduced seeding rate for hybrid barley at 200 seeds/m².

This has been proven in both Irish and UK trials to be the most economical rate to achieve high yields and high bushel weights.

Large hybrid barley bags are calibrated to sow 5ha, while small bags are calibrated to sow 0.5ha; both sown at 200 seeds/m².

Check out the video below for more details.

More Information

Seedtech is a leading wholesale seed company in Ireland. Hybrid barley is available to purchase throughout Ireland from your local merchant.

For more information on hybrid winter barley varieties, contact the Seedtech team at: [email protected] or at: 051-832814.

You can visit the Seedtech website by clicking here