Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Winter barley looks great despite recent conditions

Winter barley being harvested. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
Winter barley being harvested. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

This time last year we were trying to help our crop recover from a very dry spring. This year, although the weather has been very mixed, the crops look great.

The awns are well out on the winter barley and while we did give it an early growth regulator, we opted not to go back in with Moddus this year because the crop still looked quite short.

However, it's now looking quite tall, which means we will either have a great crop of straw or a lodged crop. It could add to the stress closer to harvest.

After an early T1 we went out with a carrier spray of Venture Extra at 0.8l/ha and Bravo at 1l/ha to help control net blotch and rhyncho.

The flag leaf spray will be another Bravo at 1l/ha and Barley Pack. Each container of Barley Pack does 6.6ha, which works out as the equivalent of 0.75l/ha of Deuce and 0.75l/ha of Diamant.

We have sown two crops of Cassia winter barley side by side that are exactly the same except one had latitude dressing and the other didn't. At the moment the one with the latitude dressing is slightly behind the one without.


The Propino spring barley went in at 12st/ac and slightly later than we would have liked as the field conditions were still quite wet.

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When we did get to sow we tilled four bags of 10-7-25 with 2pc added sulphur into the seed bed. When it emerged and we could see the tram lines it got another two bags of Sulcan, which is a nitrogen fertiliser, with sulphur added again.

The five different varieties of winter wheat are starting to show their different characteristics now. They all got just Cauldron at 1.5l/ha and Glean at 1.5l/ha as the main T1.

The earlier sown Kielder is showing signs of rust, so it got an extra spray of Jenton at 1l/ha. The reason for such a robust mix was that septoria was present in all varieties, so we were looking for both a remedy and a preventative measure.

The JB Diego is the worst, so for the T2 we will go with Liberax at 1.8l/ha and 1l/ha of Bravo on them. The later sown Lumus and Ferrari are cleaner and are getting Liberax at 1.6l/ha and Bravo at 1l/ha.

The Avatar and Kielder wheats are getting Treoris at 2l/ha, Gleam at 1.75l/ha and Corbel at 0.5l/ha.

The final split of fertiliser brought the winter wheat up to 180 units of nitrogen. The wheat after rape got 20 units less and looks as good.

The winter oil seed rape (Troy) got a mid-flowering fungicide of Filan at 410g/ha and 0.8l/ha of Amistar to help protect against sclerotinia. The spores land on the petals.

The petals then fall down onto the leaves of the plant and the plant gets infected. It is really important that this is done as a protective application rather than a curative action, so timing is everything. Early to mid flowering is the optimum.

I read that in France they have seen a significant rise in sclerotinia resistance, so it's something we need to monitor carefully.

When you look at the research and development of new products and new crop technology coming down the line it seems very far away.

Every year we hear about more resistance to different products. It seems to me, we may end up with a few years of very little choices before new products will be available. This is a particular worry in Ireland with such high disease pressure.


All the damp weather at the moment is a perfect example of a high pressure disease year. This also means higher costs, especially with winter wheat. As it becomes more and more expensive to grow you need more yield to break even.

Next month, when we have the spray and fertilisers finished we will sit down to do the costing. Even one spray for rust may add an extra €25/ac.

When I look at all the invoices coming in I wonder will more farmers be switching next year from winter wheat into spring barley and other alternatives.

  • Helen and Philip Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Twitter: P&H Harris@kildarefarmer

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