Tips for spring barley growers as lodging risk rises

Spring barley and oat growers are being advised to use plant growth regulator this spring to avoid yield losses in what could be a higher risk year.

Growth regulators can also aid establishment by promoting rooting and tillering, particularly beneficial in this wet season.

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Lodged crops not only suffer from reduced yields but have poorer grain quality and are difficult to combine. In this difficult season it is a problem growers will want to avoid. 

Alice Cannon, regional technical support manager at Farmacy, warns that the risks are higher this spring, as farmers have upped seed rates to compensate for late drilling.

“Increasing the seed rate by 100 seed/sq m in spring barley increases the lodging risk by 1.5-2 points on the Recommended List rating.”

The risk is also greater for crops being grown on heavier soils. For crops in these situations, then at least one plant growth regulator (PGR) application should be planned, she says.

Some crops may need another application this season , as spring barley and oat crops rush through their growth stages, playing catch up after the cold weather.

Alice says there are three potential application timings:

  • T0 (growth stage 30)
  • T1 (GS32) – this is the key timing
  • T2 (GS 39).

“Be careful and keep monitoring crops, so you don’t miss the growth stage timings,” she added.

Product choice should be tailored to crop type, lodging risk, growth stage and other crop requirements.

Labels should be consulted for application cut-off dates and when split doses of chlormequat are being applied.

Combining PGR applications with phosphite can help improve tillering and root development, as can applications of zinc and biostimulants.

PGRs in spring oats

In spring oats, the T0 and T1 (GS 30-32) are the main timings for PGRs and they should be monitored carefully as they move through growth stages quickly, says Alice.

“I highly recommend starting the PGR programme early to ensure you don’t miss applications as the product cut-offs are much earlier than oats.”

Spring oats are sensitive to agrochemicals, so Alice recommends not mixing PGRs with herbicides to minimise the risk of crop damage.

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