THE ceiling for barley yields may be higher than previously thought after an experimental winter line yielded more than 10 tonnes a hectare during a GRDC Hyper yielding FAR Australia trial near Millicent, says research director and Hyper Yielding Crops Project barley research lead Kenton Porker.
Ten experimental winter and spring barley lines were planted alongside two control spring lines of RGT Planet and Rosalind at the South East trial site on April 21 last year, with all lines harvested on December 14.
Six row winter type Pixel yielded 10.4t/ha, while two row winter types Newton, Memento and Madness yielded 9.7t/ha, 8.9t/ha and 8.7t/ha respectively. They were higher than Planet sown early (8t/ha) and at its optimal time (8.15t/ha).
Dr Porker said the trial inputs were all consistent with a standard hyper yielding system and said to crack 10t yields was an exciting milestone.
He put the result down to new management understanding on reducing head loss and lodging in winter varieties, as well as improved disease resistance.
"It's one of the first times that winter barley has yielded higher than our current spring barley controls that we have commercially available in Australia," he said.
"Some lines had more than 2t/ha higher yields (than the spring barley controls) and we haven't seen that before.
"We have achieved yields greater than 11t/ha before under irrigation before in Tas, but the fact we've achieved 10t/ha here in dryland barley is an amazing effort and it shows there's definitely 10t potential there in barley."
The trial was sown at 200 seeds a square metre with Vibrance, Gaucho and Systiva seed treatment and 100kg MAP/ha. A plant growth regulator was applied in August, with nitrogen applications in August and November, and fungicide in August, September and October.
The trial was sown into a peat soil with high organic matter and followed crops of faba beans, canola and wheat, while growing season rainfall at Millicent was 638.5 millimetres.
Dr Porker said while the yields of winter lines were exciting, the trial confirmed they were more prone to lodging and head loss.
"With earlier sowing, winter cultivars stay vegetative for a long period of time, produce excessive biomass, and are much taller than spring barley varieties making them quite susceptible to lodging, so a robust plant growth regulation strategy or grazing strategy is needed," he said.
"With breeding and better management, we'll be able to make them less risky.
"The trial shows there's 1-2t/ha more yield out there and, irrespective of whether they go malting or feed, this is enough to be more profitable."
SLOWER developing and high-yielding experimental winter barley lines achieved malt specification during the FAR Australia Hyper Yielding Crops Project trial.
These lines are not commercially available in Australia and do not yet have a quality classification.
While it was a nice surprise for FAR's barley research lead Kenton Porker, he said the results were most likely down to the favourable season finish.
"Typically they (winter lines) have small grain and lower test weights, particularly the six-row types," he said.
Winter barley lines have been trialled in WA and more trials across different growing environments are being conducted in Vic, but for now Dr Porker says they are most suited to high rainfall zones that have a "cool finish".
"They are more prone to smaller grain size so to really fulfil their potential they need a long, cool grain filling duration - you certainly get that in Tas, the South East of SA, some parts of south-west Vic or at high altitude," he said. "Some other high rainfall zones have a warmer finish so the winter barleys are less likely to fulfil their potential."
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