Winter barley routinely underperforms on farm compared with yields achieved in trials, why? At KWS we believe winter barley has the potential to match and even exceed the yields achieved by winter wheat in the second or third cereal position, yet performance data reveal that barley yields are typically 20% lower than what trials indicate can be achieved.
To better understand the reasons why winter barley often under-delivers, KWS conducted a small survey of growers (260 respondents) to see if there were clear differences in crop management between the top performing growers and those not achieving a desirable level of performance.
The survey confirmed many assumptions.
- First, most growers chose winter barley for reasons other than its profitability. These include ‘in support of a livestock enterprise’, to ‘spread the seasonal workload’, and to ‘provide a timely entry for oilseed rape’;
- Second, the over-whelming majority of those who responded are unsatisfied with the performance of winter barley on their farms: yields were typically upwards of 2t/ha less than that achieved by growers who described themselves as ‘satisfied’ with their winter barley performance; and
- Third, those achieving top-quartile yields know their crops better than those with bottom quartile performance. We had more complete answers and fewer partially complete answers to the survey questions from those achieving higher yields.