Spring Barley Harvest

30th August 2020

With memories of the ‘barley itch’, I wasn’t entirely relishing harvest. The crop however, looked a picture with corner to corner establishment and no lodging, despite no PGR having been applied. This a characteristic of the Mzuri system, with the row spacing enabling excellent light interception, which in turn supports a healthy plant with strong straw. Easing the life of the combine driver, but also grains that are an even moisture across the field which dry down much quicker.

Combining commenced on 7th August in 30c heat – thank goodness for cabs and air conditioning! As you would expect no drying was required, just cooling beginning from its first evening in store. The crop threshed very well, allowing good progress to be made. That was until the wobble box decided to throw a wobbly and give up the ghost. Luckily, I was able to source one in Warwickshire, so a quick a dash to collect and then fit, 4 hours later we were back up and running. Not bad considering, although it is frustrating to lose any time when the weather is with you.

Half of our spring barley was in the barn before the rain arrived, keeping us out the fields for 10 days as 50mm of rain fell sporadically. I was pleased to get a good portion of the OSR ground cleared early, allowing drilling to commence, which was our target in growing barley to keep our rotation on track.

As a new grower of spring barley we felt it was the ideal opportunity to try different combinations of coulter spacing and type. Using both 33cm and 66cm coulter centres, as well as our two types of double shoot coulters, at 3inch and 5inch widths. Spring barley was the ideal candidate for its willingness to tiller, making best use of the extra space afforded in the various settings. There was little to choose between coulter types in term of yield, with the standard 5inch coulter delivering 0.15t/ha additional yield. This small yield penalty may be offset when deployed for lower disturbance or an under sowing situation. The wide row spacing delivered a pleasing result, despite its unusual appearance, strong tillering enabled it to achieve 64% of the yield of the standard row spacing, despite less than half the ground sown.

With all of our spring barley in the barn the crop averaged 6.7t/ha, an excellent result, especially when viewed against the low cost of growing the crop. Additionally, it has been an excellent entry for OSR, whilst also remaining immaculately clean from grass weeds, a winner all round.


Spring Barley row spacing trial, left 33cm and right 66cm shortly ahead of harvest

Looking consistent across the field as the Spring Barley goes under the knife


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