Analyse soils for nutrient levels
Winter barley sowings should be completed as early as possible in October. Unlike wheat, barley cannot compensate for a low plant stand by increasing the size of the head.
Seeding rates and field germination are therefore critical in determining yield potential. The target seeding rate should be 300-350 seeds/m2, assuming field establishment of 85-90pc.
The Department of Agriculture's recommended list provides 1,000 grain weights for each of the varieties. Most varieties showed increased weights this year compared to the year before. However, there is considerable variation in seed size. This week I saw Saffron ranging from 52-61g (the Department's recommended list is 57.9g). In order to sow 350 seeds/m2, you would require 182kg/ha at 52g and 213kg/ha at 61g. For those who prefer to talk in terms of stone/ac, that is 11.5-13.5stone/ac.
Seeding rates should be increased if soil conditions are poor, sowing runs are late or indeed on land where you find it difficult to get and maintain tillers.
The six-row varieties, smaller seed, will generally require 20-30kg/ha less seed than two-row varieties. Hybrids may do well at lower plant stands than conventional varieties.
I have seen some severe slug damage in early sown winter rape, so it is obviously important to watch all sown crops and advisable to put monitoring baits in place before cultivations take place.
Application of chemical fertiliser, nitrogen and phosphorus, is prohibited from the middle of September to mid/late January.