Soil Fertility Projects

Winter Malt Barley

New winter malting barley lines are being developed at Oregon State University by Dr. Pat Hayes and no information is available on the optimum agronomic practices needed for these varieties to achieve their genetic potential yield and quality. At the present time, we have no information on which to base recommendations for the optimum seeding rate and date; fertilization practices including N, P, S, Zn, or Cl; herbicide tolerance; and agro-climatic zones where these new lines are best adapted.Accurate, research-based local information is essential for growers to make sound decisions about the optimum agronomic production practices needed to produce high yields of good quality grain.

The overall goal of this research is to have information on the key production practices (fertilization, planting rate and date, weed control, disease management, etc.) summarized in “Winter Malting Barley Production Handbook”.This will be an electronic handbook based at the Crop and Soil Science Department webpage and the CBARC webpage.

Objectives: This research will result in the development of recommended agronomic practices for the production of winter malting barley by accomplishing the following objectives:

  1. Determine the yield and grain quality response to N fertilizer rate and time of application by different varieties and advanced lines.
  2. Determine the effect of P, S, Zn and Cl fertilization on barley grain yield and quality, especially plumpness.
  3. Determine the optimum seeding rate and date for winter malting barley.
  4. Determine the effect of registered herbicides and other herbicides on winter malting barley crop injury and grain yield.

Justification: Objective 1

New barley varieties are being developed and their yield, grain protein and quality response to N fertilizer has not been assessed.The malting and brewing industry is seeking grain with protein levels between 11 and 13% for the domestic malting market with lower grain levels desired for the export market.Nitrogen management is the key tool used to manipulate grain protein.

There are questions regarding the optimum N fertilization practices that are needed to consistently produce malting barley with acceptable protein levels.There has been very little research on N management for malting barley in the Pacific Northwest so N management recommendations for malting barley are often based on the results from wheat research.Results from wheat research on N management indicate that split applications of N often result in higher grain protein levels than preplant N applications.Spring N applications are often taken up and used more efficiently by the plant, thereby increasing the likelihood of producing acceptable grain protein.

Finally, no successful diagnostic or predictive tool exists to help growers predict grain protein levels prior to harvest.Research on N management for hard red spring wheat indicates that flag leaf N can be a useful tool to predict grain protein but there has been little research on flag leaf N in barley and its relationship to grain protein.

A preliminary trial was seeded in the fall of 2000 to assess the effect of fall and spring applied N on barley grain yield, protein, and quality.Fertilizer N was applied at 0, 50, 100, or 150 lbs of N in the fall prior to planting with each fall N rate then receiving an addition 0 or 50 lbs of N per acre in the spring.The largest grain yields resulted from the application of 100 to 150 lbs of N per acre.Grain protein increased from about 9% up to about 12% as the fall N rate increased from 0 to 150 lbs per acre.Grain protein was increased about 1% by the application of 50 lbs of N in the spring, regardless of the fall N application rate.It is essential that we confirm these results and new lines be evaluated in field trials.

Objective 2

Many soils in the dryland production areas of the PNW are low in phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), zinc (Zn), and chloride (Cl) using standard soil tests.There has been no field research on the effects of these nutrients on malting barley yield and quality.Data from winter wheat trials suggests that application of P and S will often increase yield but there is no information on Zn or Cl, even though soil test levels for these four nutrients are often low. Dr. Neil Christensen is collaborating on these trials.

Results from preliminary trials indicate that winter malting barley yields were increased by P fertilization while yield responses to Zn fertilization were small.

Objective 3

The optimum seeding date and seeding rate are two critical agronomic variables that growers need to know to maximize yield.Seeding date affects the susceptibility of winter barley to soil-borne diseases, determines fall plant development, may influence winterhardiness, affects the number of tillers that form, and markedly affects yield potential.We have no information on the effect of planting date on any of these factors.We know that seeding rate also influences yield potential but we have no field research on the effect of various seeding rates on winter malting barley yield or quality.

Objective 4

The aggressive growth of winter barley allows it to compete effectively with many weeds.Nonetheless, herbicides are widely used to control weeds such as downy brome. Barley varieties are known to vary widely in their tolerance to common herbicides and determining the tolerance of the new winter malting barley lines to labeled herbicides is critical.This work is being conducted jointly with Dr. Dan Ball, weed scientist at CBARC.

Winter wheat

Winter wheat is the dominant crop in the region and it has been the subject of extensive research designed to determine the most effective fertilizer application rates, methods, times of application, sources of nutrients, and other issues. Other scientists in the region are continuing to conduct field research to more completely understand the factors that control nutrient availability and fertilizer responses to nutrients such as N, P, and S.

In contrast, there has been only a limited amount of field research on nutrients such as Zn and Cl and many questions remain about these nutrients.Field trials are being conducted at both Pendleton and Moro to help assess the need for these nutrients and determine when these nutrients should be applied.

Summary of preliminary results

Preliminary results indicate that winter wheat grain yields were increased by P fertilization.Application of Zn fertilizer did increase the Zn concentration in the leaf tissue but the grain yield response to Zn was much less than that response to P fertilizer.

Fertilization with Cl increased flag leaf Cl concentration, grain yield and 1000-kernel weight of winter wheat at both Pendleton and Moro.

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