Harvest 2015: Winter barley yields 14% above average

Winter feed barley has been the star performer of 2015, with many growers seeing double-digit yields, with both conventional and hybrid types.

“On the whole it has been a pretty easy year, with disease pressure fairly low and crops maturing early so escaping damage from the weather,” says Clare Leaman, cereal specialist at Niab. “Most reports have been of high yields in all regions, with varieties ranking as expected.”

Winter barley harvest was virtually complete by 25 August, with small areas still left to harvest in the east Midlands and Scotland, according to the ADAS harvest report. It estimated that yields were 11% to 14% above the 10-year average, at 7.2-7.4t/ha.

See also: Grower peaks at 11.8t/ha on winter barley

“Both hybrid and conventional six-row varieties have continued to perform well on yield, with malting barley yields typically ranging between 6.5t and 8t/ha,” says Rebecca Carter, agricultural consultant for ADAS. “Feed varieties have also yielded well, at 7-11.5t/ha.”

Winter barley at a glance

  • Yields 11% to 14% above the 10-year average, at 7.2-7.4t/ha.
  • Malting barley ranging between 6.5t and8t/ha
  • Feed varieties also yielded well at 7-11.5t/ha
  • Specific weights variable – below 60kg to 72kg/hl.
  • Nitrogen contents between 1.0% and 1.6%


Specific weights have been variable, ranging from below 60kg to 73kg/hl. However, screening levels were generally low, averaging 3%.

Nitrogen contents for malting varieties ranged between 1.0% and 1.6% with only occasional crops not meeting the required specification.

Control varieties in the AHDB Recommend List trials averaged 10.42t/ha, 1.04t/ha above the five-year average.

“There is some variation between the sites, with the average yield spanning from 6.25t/ha in Perthshire to 12.05t/ha in Herefordshire,” says RL manager Simon Oxley.

Six-row hybrids performed very well on both yield and specific weight, with conventional six-row varieties falling three points behind at 67kg/hl. The hybrid Volume was the headline variety, yielding 106% of the control, says Dr Oxley.

The best performing conventional six-row varieties were Meridian and Daxor at 103%. Hybrids Bazooka and Belfry topped the candidate six-row varieties at 109% and 106% respectively.

The two-row feed varieties were very close in terms of yield, with Glacier, Tower and Infinity all at 101% of the control.

“Cassia still remains very popular despite being lower on yield. It has a five-year average of 98% but a specific weight of 71.8kg/hl, which explains the popularity,” says Dr Oxley.

Spring crop

Spring barley trial results had just started to come in as Crops went to press, with control varieties across five sites averaging 8.33t/ha – 0.95t/ha above the five-year average.

“Varieties that have recently been recommended appear to be doing better than the more established ones,” says Dr Oxley.

The brewing and distilling variety Odyssey looked good at 104% compared with Concerto at 94%. Of the brewing only varieties, Irina and Propane achieved 104% and 101% respectively.

Test varieties for brewing and distilling that had done well were Sienna at 106% and Octavia at 104%.

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