Seed Industry

Hybrid barley cultivation trials: initial results from harvest 2022

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16 August 2022, UK: Initial harvest results from the Syngenta cultivation trials indicate a promising performance for a new generation of hybrid barley. 

Trials overview

The trials were carried out by Rory Hannam, Hybrid Cereal and Adjacent Technology specialist for Syngenta. “The aim of the trials was to compare different cultivation techniques and look at their impact on variety performance”.

A number of different hybrid and conventional barley varieties were included in the trials which were established at sites in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Drilled in early October, the trials compared a no till approach with a shallow (non-inversion 5 cm) and deep till (non-inversion 15-20 cm) cultivations.

Plant counts, rooting assessments and ear counts

Plant counts were carried out at GS11. In general, the lowest establishment was observed in the no till areas, with the highest plant number in the deep till plots. This assessment also highlighted the difference in established plant numbers between hybrid and conventional varieties due to the reduced seed rate used with hybrid barley (200 seeds/m2 for the hybrids vs 325/m2 for the conventional varieties).

A rooting assessment was also carried out at one of the trial sites.  This involved pulling up 10 plants per treatment and measuring the fresh weight and root length.   Whilst there was a lot of variation in root length, in general the hybrid varieties were observed to have longer roots than the conventional varieties in the trial.  The new generation hybrid barley included in this trial also demonstrated extremely consistent root lengths across all the cultivation types.  Mr Hannam says,

“whilst this assessment technique is quite basic, I think it gives us a great insight into varieties with the capability to get roots to depth, especially if you factor in the potential for differences between tillage regimes”.

Ear counts were made just prior to harvest.  The hybrid varieties had lower ears per m2 than the conventional varieties, but all the varieties in the trial showed variability in ear number across the different cultivation types.

Harvest results

At harvest the hybrid barley plots in the no till situation provided the highest yields.  The new generation hybrid which demonstrated consistent rooting across the cultivations earlier in the season also demonstrated very consistent high yields across all the cultivation types. Mr Hannam says,

“It’s great to see that the rooting assessment gave an early indication of performance stability across different cultivation types, to me this suggests that the new generation of hybrids may prove to be an important tool for farmers looking to reduce or change their cultivation techniques as a variety with flexibility is a real benefit in this scenario”

Syngenta hybrid barley varieties are also demonstrating consistent high performance in official trial results, for the most recent updates please check the AHDB website:

Syngenta are continuing research into the rooting capabilities of our hybrid barley varieties, including the cultivation variety screen.

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