Spring barley plays an important role on WG & TA Manford’s mixed farm in Benenden, Kent as a key crop in the arable rotation and also as an important source of good quality straw for his calves.
Variety choice is critical to the success of the barley crop on Hinxden Farm as it is imperative that whatever variety grown is reliable and consistent. “We need to be confident that it will yield with the minimum of attention once it is in the ground, as we have to fit in the cropping with all the other priorities of a busy mixed farm,” says Mr Westacott.
“Westminster spring barley from Lima grain
UK fits this requirement very well, we have grown the variety since its recommendation 8 years ago and true to its promises, the variety has never let us down , yielding on average around 7t/ha irrespective of the season.”
“Certain agronomic characteristics of Westminster mean it suits us well; it is stiff and long strawed, it has a wide drilling window giving us the flexibility we need for spring drilling, and whilst we aim to have the crop in the ground by mid-April at the latest last spring we did not drill until the 3rd May and we still had 7t/ha off it!”
The key to a successful spring barley crop for Mr Westacott is a good seed bed, seed rates are adjusted according to drilling date. “As the crop is being grown for feed we don’t have to worry about nitrogen so the seed bed gets a good dose of slurry from the farm, which is another good reason for growing the crop, and this then be top dressed again once the tramlines are visible.”
“The crop gets one herbicide application and a single fungicide application, we don’t use a PGR and we have never had a problem with lodging yet; without a doubt the robust disease ratings mean that we don’t have to spend too much time or effort in the field when we have other demands on our time in the spring.”
“There are newer high yielding varieties available now but we have come to rely on Westminster as a consistent and reliable variety, with good agronomic characteristics, that allows it to fit well into our whole farm management programme.”