2 April 1999

Barley mixture boosts yields

SOWING a mixture of up to six different winter barley varieties can increase yield and disease resistance, according to Adrian Newton from the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Dundee.

He told last weeks Crop Protection in Northern Britain conference that concerns about the malting quality of such mixtures needed further research.

Dr Newton did not advocate mixtures for spring barley, because of wide variation in resistance to mildew. "But for winter barley, where rhynchosporium is the main problem, there are yield benefits with and without fungicide treatments," he said.

Although trials had shown greatest disease resistance and improved yield when six varieties were mixed, he accepted that such complexity would create agronomy difficulties. It was probably best to select three varieties that would blend together.

Without fungicide, yield increases of 7% had been achieved and with fungicide protection, the improvement was as high as 12%.