More growers are giving hybrid winter barley a try on their farms
More growers are giving hybrid winter barley a try on their farms as the yield gap compared with conventional varieties widens, says Syngenta. Dominic Kilburn writes.
Syngenta hybrid barley portfolio manager, Dr James Taylor-Alford. Hybrid winter barley varieties are gaining a strong foothold in the UKs winter barley area as growers look to their high yield as the key reason to adopt them on their farms. However, additional advantages such as increased vigour, suppression of black-grass and an early exit ahead of oilseed rape drilling will ensure that the overall area of hybrid varieties grown is set to increase again for the forthcoming season. Thats according to Syngenta hybrid barley portfolio manager Dr James Taylor-Alford who said that the companys Hyvido-branded winter barley, the majority (80 per cent) of which includes the Recommended Lists highest yielding variety Volume, had a 21 per cent share (70,000ha) of the 330,000ha UK feed winter barley market. The area of Hyvido hybrid winter barley in the ground today has doubled since the 20122013 season as more people are learning how to grow it properly and seeing the yield gap on farm broadening between hybrids and conventional varieties, said James, speaking at a recent briefing. He pointed out that hybrid barley can produce considerably more root length compared with conventional varieties, which enables it to scavenge more effectively for water and nutrients. It also produces larger flag leaves which are able to capture more sunlight and drive yield. On-farm results from 32 sites in 2013 showed that an average of 0.92t/ha yield was achieved from hybrid winter barley crops compared with conventional, proving that Hyvido varieties are better equipped to deal with the greater variability found within fields. Volume is the highest yielding winter barley on the Recommended List but when its grown on farm the yield gap gets wider, James pointed out. We think that there will be a continued increase in the area of hybrid winter barley in the UK, particularly replacing some of the more marginal second wheat areas which growers are moving away from, but also because of the crops ability to compete with black-grass and provide an early entry for oilseed rape, he added. James suggested that there was scope for hybrid expansion in the south east and west of the country as other varieties come through the breeding pipeline, while growers in the north and Scotland have been growing Volume as their core variety since its launch in 2008. The pipeline for future Hyvido varieties is looking good too, he continued. They are yielding significantly higher than Volume, and, while they wont all make it commercially, there is clearly a lot of genetic potential to come. According to James, Syngenta is currently in discussion with HGCA regarding the protocols used for the Recommended List which, the company says, dont currently reflect the full potential of hybrid varieties. There are no clear guidelines for nitrogen recommendations and timings on the RL and, ultimately, if there were, it would be beneficial to growers on farm who could adopt the right regime. Early nitrogen applications are critical for hybrids to reach their full genetic potential and wed like to see protocols take this into account before we go back into the RL system with future varieties.
Hyvido cash-back reminder
One year ago Syngenta launched its Hyvido cash-back guarantee of which 23,000ha (30 per cent of the Hyvido planted area) was subsequently signed up to the offer. The offer continues again for this autumn-planted crop with a reminder that, when compared with yield performances at local and independent reference sites, if a growers Hyvido variety doesnt yield at least 0.5t/ha more than a conventional winter barley, then Syngenta will pay out a 60/ha cash-back. More details and grower guidelines for the scheme can be gained from Syngenta.