Choosing your winter barley varieties for this autumn

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13 July 2021, UK: With the barley harvest fast approaching, many growers and agronomists have already started to think about their variety choices for next year.  Yield, both in terms of high yield and consistent yield, is often a key driver for variety choice.  However, the other key characteristics should not be ignored (especially disease profile, lodging resistance and ripening date) which can all have a major impact on crop management throughout the season.  It’s therefore worth taking the time to weigh up all the options and choose the variety that is right for you.

Hybrid barley offers much more than the highest yield

Many growers have found that hybrid barley is a reliable and flexible second cereal option that offers an attractive alternative to second wheats.  Indeed, hybrid barley has now become a mainstream choice on many farms, so much so, that approximately one in three winter feed barley fields are now planted with hybrid barley.

At a basic level, all the current hybrid barley varieties offer consistently high yields, in combination with improved specific weight, as standard.  In addition, there are a range of extra benefits which can make a real difference during the growing season.  

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For example, early ripening can help to spread workload at harvest, avoid overlap with the wheat harvest, and generate early cash flow.  Early harvest may also provide a greater opportunity to establish following crops of oilseed rape before they are attacked by cabbage stem flea beetle and the baled straw can provide useful additional income especially at current prices.  

Good all-round disease profiles, coupled with healthy untreated yields, may also add greater flexibility to fungicide timings when the pressure is on.  And of course, we shouldn’t forget the additional value of grass weed suppression, both brome and ryegrass, as a tool for managing grass weeds in the crop and reducing seed return. 

All hybrids now come with high specific weight built in

All our hybrid barleys are in the top 75% of the Recommended List when it comes to specific weight. This is something our breeders have focused on in the last 10 years and we know is a key feature for Scottish farmers.

The best hybrid barley varieties for Scotland

Our top 5 variety picks for Scotland are: 

You can find further information on each individual variety here: SY KINGSBARN BELMONT SY KINGSTON SY ARMADILLO SY THUNDERBOLT, or alternatively, please click here: Northern Region Variety Summary Western Region Variety Summary for a simplified regional overview.

In conclusion, there’s almost certainly a hybrid barley variety that’s right for you! 

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