31 May 2002

Beds farmer welcomes higher yield

IN Bedfordshire Simon Bath has grown six-row barley for four seasons on PC Baths 360ha (889-acre) farm at Roxton Park.

"I grew two-row barley until 1998 and used to consider six-row barley as a weed to be avoided," he says.

"But modern six-row varieties are radically different from the old ones and provide a far better sample and noticeably higher yields.

"Although grown on my lightest land and fields considered too weedy for seed crops of wheat, I combine around 1t/ha more grain from a six-row than a two-row crop."

The last year two-row barley was grown at Roxton Park was 1998. The following season Muscat yielded 8.4t/ha (3.36t/acre). In 2000 Angela turned in 0.5t/ha (4cwt/acre) more, and despite last years miserable season the same variety averaged 7.4t/ha (2.96t/acre). This year 35ha (86 acres) of Siberia will be combined in July.

"My aim is to increase output by using the six-row Siberia to maximise yield. It fits in well on this farm and as well as giving top yields helps to spread the workload at both drilling and harvest."

Six-row barley is drilled in the third week of September, so it slots in between first and second wheat, at a seed rate of 150kg/ha (120 lbs/acre).

As it follows winter wheat to provide an entry for some of the farms winter rape, there is little residual nitrogen left in the soil. It needs 180kg/ha (162 units/acre), which is applied in two splits.

The crop is programmed to receive two fungicide treatments, the first at stem extension in the second week of April, the second in early May at the "paint-brush" stage to protect the awns.

As high yielding crops must not be allowed to fall down pgr is a vital input. Some is mixed in with the first fungicide spray, and a follow-up dose is applied at the flag leaf stage.

"By achieving high yields I am able to reduce the per-tonne cost of production by almost £5. This is well worth having in the prevailing tough economic climate," says Mr Bath. &#42