How to grow a successful spring barley crop
Spring barley growers have control over all the elements of growing spring barley, all but price and weather, so focus on what you can influence inside the field gate.
The level of rainfall recorded at Athenry weather station (courtesy of met eireann) between Dec 2017 and Feb 2018 stands at >400mm, as a result land still remains unfit to cultivate and spring barley planting has to be put on hold until weather conditions improve.
Soil temperatures are also 1.5-2.5 degrees below normal for this time of year. It is important to have patience with soil conditions as spring barley will not perform in a poor/damaged seedbed. However conditions can change very rapidly with a few days drying so it is important to have all your planning and preparations done and be ready to go when the opportunity arises.
It is important to have soil analysis carried out at least once every five years. A basic soil result will give you the fertility status for pH/Lime requirement and the Macro elements phosphorous and potassium.
It is essential to establish the nutrient status of the field or farm to feed the crop correctly.
Applying lime and correcting soil pH to 6.5 is an essential and often forgotten duty when establishing a spring barley crop. Barley is highly sensitive to acidity.
Ground limestone should be spread on ploughed ground and tilled in. Granular lime due to its high cost and both lack of potency and endurance should be avoided especially on heavier clay soils that may have a higher lime requirement. Lime gives by far the best return on investment above all other inputs at €20-25/tonne.