27 May 2021, UK: Over the last few years, we have shown that hybrid barley can be an integral part of your strategy for managing grass weeds. Trials have shown that hybrid barley offers better suppression of black-grass, brome and ryegrass than winter wheat and 2-row winter barley. This benefit, which is uniquely powered by hybrid vigour, is a common feature of all of our hybrid varieties.
Source: Syngenta ryegrass site H2020, Staffordshire with no autumn herbicide treatments. Conventional winter wheat and barley drilled at 350 and 325 seeds/m2 respectively.
In addition to choosing hybrid barley as the most competitive crop against grass weeds, there are some further considerations which will boost competitiveness even further.
Getting good establishment
Achieving good crop establishment across the whole field is also important for the best grass weed suppression. Where hybrid barley was planted at 100 seeds per metre squared in the 2020 trial work to simulate poor establishment, it still maintained similar ryegrass suppression to conventional six-row winter barley. However, when its seed rate was increased to 250 seeds per metre squared from 200, this reduced ryegrass levels even further reducing ryegrass from 8 to just 2 heads per metre squared. In situations such as headlands where soil compaction threatens establishment of any crop, there is a strong argument for planting hybrid barley at this higher seed rate.
Source: AHDB 2019 Factsheet “Black-grass: solutions to the problem”.
The above graph demonstrates the competitiveness of hybrid barley and how seed rates are an effective part of reducing black-grass plants by 40%. However, it also shows the importance of considering wider controls to further suppress black-grass. The cultivation method and drill date can hugely reduce the black-grass plant numbers. Consider all of the cultural elements before applying herbicides for the remainder of the black-grass plants still present.
Growing hybrid barley
Many growers have found that hybrid barley is an easy crop to grow successfully. On-farm experience over many seasons has shown that is pays to focus on six critical steps: