Blame it on the rain: lodging in barley


Across both the Wimmera and the Mallee barley crops are starting to lodge following the recent rain.

Lodging usually occurs when the grain head becomes too heavy in relation to the plant height and stem strength, causing it to fall over. However, recent rain has been predominantly responsible for lodged crops across the region, with good growing conditions contributing to plant height, and wind and rain increasing the pressure on the plant’s stem.

Barley varieties vary in their susceptibility to lodging which is quite evident this year with Compass barley being reported as the most common culprit.

Observations this year confirm previous BCG research which has identified Compass’ tendency to lodge when yields exceed 3.5-4t/ha, especially when harvest is delayed.

At the BCG Main Field Day at Warmur, researcher Linda Walters discussed the current situation, highlighting the susceptibility of a range of barley varieties to lodging and head loss.

Research carried out by BCG through the GRDC barley agronomy project has supported the lodging risk in Compass barley crops,” she said.

“Head loss can also be a problem with this variety when harvest occurs outside of the optimum time frame. However, susceptible variety Scope CL, is still most at risk.”

According to BCG’s research team lodged barley crops have been known to sometimes recover if conditions are good and this has been observed in the barley and oat variety trials at the main site at Warmur. 

But with forecasts of more rain, Ms Walters said growers should be prepared for a slower than expected harvest.

To minimise losses Ms Walters said farmers should be aware of each varieties risk to lodging, head loss and sprouting, and to prioritise harvest accordingly.

“Weather forecasts, and sometimes the value of the crop (commodity prices), will also play a part in decisions around prioritising paddocks at harvest time,” she said.

BCG is currently managing a number of barley variety comparison trials at sites across the Wimmera and Mallee including a barley delayed harvest trial at Kalkee and, in partnership with Agritech Rural, is also examining the effect of plant growth regulators (PGRs) on lodging and headloss.

Presently, BCG research staff have also been assessing the severity and frequency of lodging within trials to determine if there is any subsequent effect on yield.

The results from this research, which has been supported by the GRDC through its barley agronomy and Grain and Graze 3 initiatives, will be available early next year.

For information contact BCG on (03) 5492 2787.

This article was published in the Stock and Land on September 22, 2016

Upcoming Events

Become a BCG Member

BCG exists for its members. Research and extension activities are designed to provide members with information and resources that will help them improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of their farm businesses.

Improve your profitability

Receive the latest research, extension and event news direct to your inbox! For a limited time, receive a free technical bulletin when you subscribe.