Knowing your variety helps avoid 'gnarly barley'


Cereal variety trials typically give researchers great insight into yield, disease tolerance, standability and a host of management considerations to help growers pick the right variety for their fields.

In this year’s Ontario Spring Cereal Performance Trials, researchers are also getting a good look at the impact herbicide choices can have on cereals.

In this video, OMAFRA weed specialist Mike Cowbrough takes a close look at the spring barley trials at the Elora Research Station and highlights the role variety choice can play in herbicide injury, including distorted awns and heads that contribute to 10 to 20 percent yield losses.

Cowbrough explains that varietal susceptibility is the only difference between the injured and non-injured plants in the test plots, which had the same grass and broadleaf herbicides applied on the same date and under similar environmental conditions.

To avoid herbicide injury in cereals, Cowbrough says it’s important to understand varietal differences. He recommends that growers keep a close eye on performance trials and talk to their seed suppliers and trusted local agronomists to ensure they make the best herbicide selection for their varieties. He also discusses two other important considerations to reduce herbicide injury: avoiding applying herbicides under extreme environmental conditions and ensuring you don’t spray too close to the reproductive stage of the crop.

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