Seed Industry

Spring barley establishment

18 January 2022UK: Due to the shorter growing season, spring barley doesn’t have the opportunity to tiller as much as winter barley, therefore establishing the optimum number of plants is key to achieving spring barley potential. It is also important to get the right seed rate to help establish a healthy crop and build both yield and quality:

  • Achieve target plant establishment numbers
  • Select the right seed rate
  • Consider variety canopy structure

The target plant establishment for spring barley is around 300 plants/m2 to achieve optimum yield and quality.  If conventional tillage is applied, then spring barley prefers a fine and well drained seedbed. Trials work in 2021 showed that in the first year of direct drill situations establishment can be lower, so seed rates may need to be increased to achieve the optimum plant stand.

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Getting the seed rate right for your spring barley crop is a vital part of establishing a healthy crop and will help build both yield and grain quality. 

A thick crop will be more prone to lodging and brackling and encourage higher levels of disease. A thinner crop will be more severely affected by adverse weather conditions such as drought stress or waterlogging. 

Spring barley varieties have different canopy structures and seed rates can be altered to suit each variety:

  • LAUREATE is a higher tillering variety and produces many small ears. Very high seed rates will boost yield up to a point, but the risk of lodging increases and tillering is slowed.  Trials have shown that LAUREATE yield levels off at a seed rate of 400 seeds/m2.
  • FAIRING is a lower tillering variety with larger ear length.  Because its straw is stiff, seed rates can be increased to enhance yield. 
  • SY TUNGSTEN has moderate sized ears and tillering. A standard seed rate will encourage optimum tillering and prevent high screenings.
  • SY SPLENDOR has strong straw and high specific weight. The plant structure allows this variety to handle a higher seed rate to increase the smothering effect of grass weeds.

Below is the seed rate table for Syngenta varieties:

Seed rates on this table start from 325 seeds/m2 depending on month sown and region. Other factors such as seedbed conditions, soil moisture and temperature should also be considered.