From the Field: Crop Rotation with Small Grains
By Pedee Ewing / March 14, 2017
Pedee is a Barley Agronomist with our partner Integrow Malt in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Pedee has his master's in plant science from the University of Idaho and has worked with InteGrow since March 2016.
Small grains like malt barley are grown all over the world with very high productivity. Crop rotation can play a critical role. In some situations, barley can be successful following other small grains; however, continuous production is not recommended, as there can be an increased incidence of plant disease, insects and certain weeds.
Crop rotation helps make weed management easier by changing growing conditions that would favor the buildup of specific weeds and by allowing the use of different herbicides according to crop labels. Changes in tillage, planting time, length of growing season and chemical usage disrupt weed, insect and nematode life cycles. Crop rotation also can help in managing some diseases. Rotation to a non-host crop can discourage new pathogen growth if it cannot survive in the absence of the host.
Additionally, diversifying crops in your farming operation can also have other advantages like mitigating economic risk.
When planning your rotation, here are some things to consider:
- the previous crop;
- weed, disease and insect pressure in your region;
- the previous herbicides used.
Crop Rotation with Malt Barley
Avoid rotating malt barley directly with corn. Corn residue is a preferred host for Fusarium, which can cause DON accumulation on the seed.
Malt barley has a fibrous root system that can enhance nutrient cycling, benefit the physical soil structure, help reduce erosion, improve water penetration and help build organic matter.
Barley does well following legumes and pulse crops because of the availability of residual nitrogen. It is important to factor this in when developing a fertility plan for your crop.
Having a diverse crop rotation can help you reach the maximum potential with malt barley. Please reach out to your agronomist if you have questions!