French: Orge, escourgeon (winter barley); Spanish: Cebada; Italian: Orzo; German: Gerste
Annual, winter- and spring-sown types; ears 2- or multiple-rowed; grains generally with glumes.
Harvested products: grain, straw, (occasionally) whole green plant.
Desired characteristics affecting fertilizer requirement:
In grain for livestock feed: high crude protein, especially lysine. In grain for processing for use in human foodstuffs: high-protein endosperm, lack of excrescences, low husk content.
In grain for malting: high starch, low crude protein, lack of excrescences.
Straw for bedding: should be dry, absorbent material.
Whole green plant for forage: high crude protein and energy, smooth glumes.
Sowing times: winter varieties should have completed tillering before the vegetative rest period, i.e. normally within 45 days (of real growth) from emergence. On the other hand, excessive early development of biomass is undesirable as it reduces winter hardiness.
Spring varieties should be sown as early as practicable, when temperature, moisture and other soil conditions permit.
Plant density: sowing rates for 2-rowed types are within the range of 320 - 365 grains/m2 (at a desired optimum ear density of 700 - 800 ears/m2). With multiple-rowed winter barley the following model calculation may serve as a guide:
Expected yield = 9 t/ha; required ear density = 600 ears/m2. With an estimated germination rate of 95 %, an overwintering rate of 85 % and 2.7 ears per plant, the seeding rate should be 280 grains/m2 (see also 2.3 Wheat).
Temperature limitations and the duration of the various growth phases are illustrated in the following table
Yield structure: The next table shows the (relative) changes of yield components in correlation to varying amounts of plant available water; assuming that water supply is the primary yield-determining factor in cereals:
The grain yield of barley is related to the amount of water consumption, which increases over-proportionally with increasing yield; the same is true of N uptake. If maximum utilization of water and applied nutrients is required for optimum grain yield, then the ratio of the number of plants per unit area to the number of ears per plant must be optimized; thus the crop should tiller heavily. This can be influenced, depending on water and N supply, by application of N. Depending on the quantity and timing of N application, around 250 l water per kg grain yield may be needed, the coefficient of productive tillering (ear-bearing tillers / total tillers) ranging between 0.39 and 0.60.
As shown in the figure it is not so important in barley as in wheat to control the uniformity of different orders of tillers. Unproductive tillering (caused for example by a too high or too late N fertilization in spring) should, however, be avoided.
Two-rowed barley varieties have lower ear weights, consequently a higher ear density than with multiple-rowed types is necessary to reach the same yield. Higher seeding rates and productive tillering promoted by N-fertilizer use are therefore necessary with two-rowed types (e.g. 700 - 800 ears/m2 as compared to 550 - 600 ears/m2 on fertile soils with ample water supply). With multiple-row types the target should be about three ears per plant, and with spring-sown two-row types two ears per plant. Because of the importance of floret reduction and grain formation in two-row types, an adequate nutrient supply must be ensured during shooting and after flowering.
When the crop is grown for malting, a variety should be selected which is appropriate to the expected wheather conditions.
If the crop is undersown, the undersown crop should not be grown so early that it might outgrow the barley and reduce resistance to lodging.
The same principles apply as for wheat, but the exact timing of split applications of N is more critical, especially for winter barley.
Since the root system of barley is less readily established than that of wheat, attempts have been made (in the UK) to promote longitudinal root growth by autumn application of clormequat chloride to young plants; but the efficacy of this method has not yet been fully confirmed.
Owing to the greater tendency of barley to lodge, as compared with wheat, stem stabilizers are being used in intensive growing systems. As chlormequat by itself does not give sufficient reduction in stem length, a combination of chlormequat chloride and etephon is favoured, with etephon alone being used for late applications.
Preferred forms of fertilizer nutrients
N - Quick acting forms are preferred for malting barley; forms releasing N too late in the growing period should be avoided in order to minimize the risk of too high a crude protein content in the grain. Slurry in particular can cause serious problems; if used at all for malting barley, only small amounts should be applied. Too late application of N fertilizer should be avoided.
P - a good supply is especially important for malting barley.
K - potassium chloride. As for P, adequate K should always be available. In general, K increases lodging-resistance and frost-hardiness.
Mg - barley reacts intensively to deficiency, producing leaf chlorosis; even though this may not always significantly reduce yield, it should be corrected by application of adequate Mg-containing fertilizers.
For further details refer to 'Fertilizer recommendations' and 'Calculation of nutrient rates' for Wheat. Click here.
Generally, for the application of P and K three methods are practised:
On soils with satisfactory reserves of P and K, the applied nutrient rates depend on the expected grain yield.
Fertilizer practice in other countries
Most barley produced in Canada is spring seeded. It is grown both for feed and malting purposes, with small amounts used for human consumption.
Fertilizer recommendations vary from region to region, depending on environmental conditions. Soil testing is recommended for specific fertilizer recommendations.
In drier areas, band application of N is generally recommended. Limited amounts of N may be placed with the seeds. In the moister areas, spring broadcast and incorporated fertilizer applications are quite efficient. In all areas P should be seed-placed or banded with N. K is also more efficiently used if banded than if broadcast. Limited amounts (less than approx. 35 kg/ha K2O) can be placed with the seeds.
P should be placed 5 cm below the seed; application rates are adjusted according to soil test results.
COMMONWEALTH AGRICULTURAL BUREAU: Barley: soil, water and nutrient relations (1974-1966). CAB Annotated Bibliography No. 1718 (1975)
GAUER, E. et al.: Nitrogen Fertilization of Barleys in Manitoba. Canada Agri. Food, Manitoba, Agriculture No. 100 (1990)
RASMUSSON, D.C.: Barley. ASA Monograph 26, Madison, WI, USA (1985)
REINER, L. et al.: Wintergerste aktuell. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., Germany (1977)
REINER, L. et al.: Sommergerste aktuell. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., Germany (1985)
Authors: K.-U. Heyland, A. Werner; Lehrstuhl fuer Speziellen Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzuechtung, University of Bonn, Germany
Contributors: L.D. Bailey, C.A. Grant, Research Scientists, Agriculture Canada, Brandon Research Station, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada; R. Prasad, Professor of Agronomy, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India