Hordeum vulgare L.

Many maltsters require producers to use certified seed, or first year off certified seed. Use of certified, or first year off certified seed ensures quality for the producer and Rahr Malting Canada. This helps guarantee producers are getting weed and disease free seed of the correct variety with a high level of germination. When selecting a variety, agronomic traits, environmental compatibility, and regional markets must be considered.

Seed treatments are recommended to reduce incidence of smut in susceptible varieties. Agronomic best management practices advise seed treatment, even of resistant varieties, to reduce the likelihood of genetic resistance breakdown.
As nitrogen rates are increased, barley yields are increased. However, too much nitrogen fertilization also produces a number of deleterious effects in malting barley quality. As such, when applying nitrogen to malting barley producers must maintain a fine balance between yield and quality.

Field variability is an important consideration when determining a fertilizer regime. Soil or tissue testing are powerful diagnostic tools to match crop need with available soil nutrients. A good rule of thumb is to apply same amount of nutrient to the field as was removed from the field as biomass.
Seeding Rate
To produce the best malting barley a seeding rate in the range of, but not exceeding 300 seeds/m2 should be used. Rates above 300 seeds/m2 result in reduced kernel plumpness. Higher plant densities reduce tillering and decrease grain protein content. Excessive tillering is undesirable for malting barley crops as it results in uneven crop maturity. Uniformly matured grains germinate uniformly in the malting process.
Optimal malting barley is harvested when fully mature. Green seeds lower malting quality. Once the grain has reached 13.5% or less seed moisture content, it can be harvested. Newly stored barley will have residual field heat and uneven dryness that might lead to moisture pockets in the bin. Field heat and moisture will increase seed viability losses and disease in bins. Producers should aerate or turn newly stored grain to reduce these issues.
Seeding Date
Early seeding is a best management practice for producing malting barley. Early seeding provides greater soil moisture for germination. Disease pressures are largely escaped with a large portion of grain fill occurring before July/August when barley diseases become pronounced. Generally, early seeded barley has lower protein content and greater plumpness; quality parameters desired by maltsters.

Early seeded crops may benefit from a phosphorus application at time of seeding. Phosphorus has been shown to improve nutrient uptake and root growth in cold, wet soils.
Disease is an important issue for malting barley producers. Disease leads to yield loss as well as malting quality reductions. Common foliar diseases of malting barley include fusarium head blight (FHB), net blotch, and spot blotch. The greatest degree of disease control will be accomplished using an integrated pest management strategy that incorporates genetic resistance, chemical applications, and cultural control. Having some background knowledge on the life cycle of a disease can greatly assist management practices. For example, tillage is an effective cultural control method in reducing residue bourn pathogens such as FHB or net blotch in fields where they have been an issue. Geographic separation of barley crops may reduce risk of wind borne pathogens.

References: Rahr Malting Canada

Table 1. Approximate macronutrient removal in pounds per acre by an 80 bushel per acre barley crop with 11.5% protein.

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