Tips for winter barley in late autumn: Keep calm and don't panic, but adjust crop management to reflect lost growth
1 There is not a latest safest sowing cut-off date for winter barley, the vernalisation requirement is lower than wheat, but harvest date and yield will be impacted the further into the winter months that drilling occurs.
2 The view of KWS is that once past the optimum window, drilling date becomes less relevant while soil conditions take on greater importance. Seed bed quality is paramount to establishing a healthy plant stands as quickly as possible to maximise plant size and tillering potential and every effort should be made to produce the best possible seed bed. Crops forced into wet, cold, poor quality seedbeds will struggle to establish well, loosing tillering time. Once tillers are set, so is yield. We have to accept that unlike wheat, barley cannot manipulate tiller numbers to recover some of the potential lost with later drilling.
3 It may be wise to flip your thinking and start with wheat and return to winter barley when seedbeds have become more favourable.
4 Seed rates may need to be adjusted to achieve a good plant stand depending on conditions. Similar seed rates as used for wheat would be the best broad brush recommendation.
5 Spring agronomy should start as early as possible in the new year to retain as many tillers as possible and ensure adequate nutrition for the setting of ear size during stem extension.