Spring barley is set to take up a large area of tillage crops this year.

With the year that’s in it, we need to be maximising the yield of these crops and spend efficiently as a result.

A key message coming from BASF’s technical conference last week was to protect tillers and yield on barley in order to maximise yield.

Management is key

Barley management early in the season is essential in order to create and protect yield and Steven Kildea of Teagasc hammered home this message.

“It is about making sure we have sufficient numbers of heads and grain sites. That comes from the time point of protecting those tillers. Once we’ve created those sites, we need to make sure that we can fill those sites.”

One of the first things Steven noted was that growers and agronomists need to know what to expect from varieties and manage varieties accordingly.

He said that rhynchosporium has the potential to come in early and do a lot of damage in winter barley in particular. Rhynchosporium is one disease that, to some extent, has fallen off the radar in barley, but can do damage to a crop early in the season.


Looking at resistance scores on Department of Agriculture recommended lists, he noted those trials are generally planted in March. Steven questioned that if crops are planted a month earlier, are those varieties as strong on resistance to disease?

Dave Leahy of BASF expanded on this, commenting that farmers need to be careful in a continuous barley situation, as net blotch can thrive here.

Both speakers highlighted the importance of having a good crop rotation and Dave added that this is even more important in minimum-tillage or direct-drill scenarios.

In continuous barley situations on reduced tillage, he said: “We’re literally drilling into a haven of disease and that’s what net blotch loves.”

Keeping rhynchosporium and net blotch at bay then has a knock-on effect by reducing ramularia risk.

We now know that ramularia is seriously affected by stress and disease causes stress on plants. Keeping plants as clean and green as possible is essential.

Dave added: “We need to get barley to a point in time.” He said we need to extend green area to increase yield.