Malt Barley Fertilizer Requirements

Malt Barley is a crop that requires a variety of different nutrients and minerals to grow properly. These nutrients include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and iron. In addition to these major elements, several other nutrients must be available to ensure that Malt Barley plants reach their full potential. For the plant to produce its best yields possible, it must receive the proper amount of each mineral at the right time during its growth cycle.

Malt barley fertilizer requirements are based on the amount of annual rainfall and the stage of growth in which the crop is at. If a farmer’s soil test shows that it has a high pH, they should not apply lime to their fields. Instead, they should use ammonium sulfate, which can help lower the pH.

If you want to grow malt barley, then you’ll need to make sure that your soil has enough nutrients in it. If you don’t have enough nitrogen in your soil, then this will be reflected in your crops’ yield potential. If you don’t know how much nitrogen you need for your crops, then there are plenty of experts out there who will be happy to help you figure it out.

Malt Barley Fertilizer Requirements

A soil-test can help you determine your malt barley fertilizer requirements. Your choice of fertilizer should depend on its intended use. Aim for a barley protein content of less than 12 percent. Increasing grain yields can be a tricky task, but providing adequate nutrients is essential for enhancing the quality of the kernel and ensuring malt grade barley. Below is a brief rundown of the different kinds of nutrients you should add to your malt barley crop.

Ammonium sulfate

In North Dakota, ammonium sulfate is a common supplemental fertilizer. It was initially made from ammonia that was released from the manufacturing of coal coke. Then, the sulfuric acid was mixed with the ammonia to create ammonium sulfate. After the sulfate is formed, it is screened to reduce dust and caking and dried to a desired size. Some materials are coated with a conditioner to reduce dust and caking.

In southern Alberta, low P applications improved barley yield. However, the magnitude of response was less than the effects of N fertilization. However, P fertilization does improve malt quality. For this reason, the malting industry considers the quality of kernel plumpness when accepting grain. However, the recommended application rate for elemental S for malt barley is based on initial soil S tests.

For good yields, malt barley needs adequate nitrogen. However, if grain protein levels exceed industry standards, it may not make the grade for malting. Excessive nitrogen can lead to smaller kernel sizes and lodging, which lower yields and increase the severity of fusarium head blight. As a result, malt barley fertilizer requirements can be very variable.

The results of this study showed that there was no significant difference in the quality of malting barley between sites, with grain yields within three percent of the Harrington average. In addition, in 70% of sites, two-row malt barley was of acceptable quality. In addition, 50% of six-row varieties had acceptable malt quality. For each of these varieties, the effect of nitrogen fertilizer addition on grain yields was the greatest agronomic variable.


Optimum production of malt barley in southern Alberta is dependent on adequate nitrogen. Excessive nitrogen in the soil can cause the kernel to be smaller than desired, reducing yield and increasing the severity of fusarium head blight. Copper and sulfur are necessary for malting-grade barley, but are not required in high-quality soils. Copper and sulfur are inert in most mineral soils. Other micronutrients should be avoided.

The recommended rates of N fertilizer are based on estimated differences between soil N availability and N demand. Typically, available water is determined by soil moisture before seeding and expected growing-season precipitation. The estimated soil N content is largely based on the measurement of soil nitrate. Studies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan conducted during the 1960s showed a high correlation between soil nitrate and N uptake.

Optimum N and copper rates were found to vary significantly among barley cultivars. The N-to-grain ratio (NFopt) of a cultivar affected its yield and protein content. Soil water and N availability must be accounted for in order to accurately predict barley yield. If both are present, a high-quality malt barley crop should yield higher yields. In addition to nitrogen, copper and zinc are essential for growing malt barley.

The best method of applying a copper-based fertilizer is to broadcast the product over the soil with a spread of two percent. The result is a significantly higher yield of barley grain per unit of N applied. Broadcasting the fertilizer in this way can result in damage to the foliage, particularly when it’s not in a controlled environment. To reduce the risk of burn, use a stream to apply the fertilizer evenly.


Sulphur deficiency is a critical factor in malt barley production, as this plant is highly sensitive to deficiencies. In addition to increasing grain yield, sulphur also promotes grain quality by accelerating the accumulation of nitrogen in grain and lengthening the maturation period. Higher starch content in the kernels also contributes to high grain yield and high quality. Despite the high demand for sulphur, it can be difficult to add it to the soil without affecting yield and quality.

In 2003 and 2004, researchers at Washington Agricultural Experiment Stations and the Barley and Malt Laboratory of the USDA reported that sulfur availability was less reliable than in previous years. Increased rainfall and increased crop yield have led to sulfur deficiency. While no soil test was available to determine the availability of sulfur, these findings indicate that higher organic matter, clay and sandy soils have a lower availability of the element. Therefore, producers should apply between 10 and 20 pounds of sulfur per acre of land.

If the N and Sulfur requirements are not met, a split application of the N and Sulfur at planting is a good alternative. If rainfall is lagging or the outlook is not favorable, apply the N and sulfur at planting, allowing the crop to take up the rest of the nitrogen. The resulting grain will contain more protein than the previous harvest. Aside from nitrogen, sulfur is an important nutrient for the malting industry, so using fertilizers that are high in Sulfur can improve the quality of the product.


While nitrogen is essential to feed barley, it is not always the right choice for malting purposes. Malting grade barley should be slightly N deficient, while two-row barley should be a little higher in N. The higher level of residual nitrate in malted barley will contribute to higher protein content. Hence, malt producers must get written advice from a reputable source.

The recommended N rates are based on soil nitrate-N analysis to 2 feet depth, previous crop credits, and adjustment for continuous no-till/one-pass seeding. For best results, soil sampling is conducted before planting, usually in fall or early spring. Soil sampling in site-specific zones can reduce over and under-fertilization. Soil nitrate-N analysis should be completed in both the fall and early spring.

The malting grade of barley is critical for both the quality and quantity of malt. While malt is a high-quality product, adverse growing conditions and short growing seasons may reduce the quality of the product. Malting barley growers should apply fertilizers based on optimal agronomic practices in order to maximize yields and improve the quality of the product. If you want to make your own beer, you must understand malt barley fertilizer requirements.

Sulfur deficiency in North Dakota is more common than in other states due to increased rainfall and crop yield. In addition, soil samples may have low S deposition. The availability of sulfur is not determined by soil tests, but high S deposition has been found on some soils. Higher organic matter, clay, and sandy soils are more susceptible to a sulfur deficiency. For the best results, fertilizer applications should target 70% of the phosphate demand.

Sulfur rates

Sulphur is an essential plant nutrient. Although the supplementation of sulfur may lead to inefficient crop utilization of this element and negative impacts on the environment, there are certain benefits to the application of sulfur to malt barley. The results of a study on sulfur use in barley showed an increase in the yield of malt and straw after 20 kg S/ha was applied. The study also indicated a trend of increased yield components in the barley.

The results of the partial budget analysis show that the application of S at 20 kg ha-1 significantly increased barley yield and straw yield. The interaction of S and location is also shown in Table 6.

In addition, the nitrogen rate must match the desired yield. Higher rates of nitrogen may be desirable for a low-nitrogen malt barley. Sulfur rates should be tailored to match the intended yields. During the grain filling phase, nitrogen is redistributed from the leaves and stems to the developing grain. High soil nitrogen uptake occurs due to the active root system of barley.

The recommended N and Sulfur rates are based on the estimated difference between available soil N and the barley’s yield. The barley yield, the moisture content prior to seeding, and expected growing sea son precipitation are used to estimate available soil N. Soil nitrate, a measure of the available soil N, can be used to determine the N demand. The 1960s trials of barley in Manitoba and Saskatchewan revealed a good correlation between soil N and barley N uptake.

Seeding rate

A high fertilizer rate will not increase yield over the yield potential of the environment. Fertilizer rates are based on maximizing yield, which varies from environment to environment. For example, feeding barley fertilizer rates are much higher than those for malting, because the barley’s protein content is lower. In addition, NDSU research has shown that seeding barley early is key to the highest yield potential, with the best chance of malting grade south of Highway 2.

To address soil sulfur deficiencies, producers should apply 10 pounds per acre of sulfate or thiosulfate. In North Dakota, sulfur deficiencies have increased in recent years, due to higher crop yield, increased rainfall and reduced S deposition. Because sulfur deficiency is a common problem in this state, no soil test is available to determine availability. Higher organic matter soils, clay soils, and sandy soils have been found to be particularly susceptible to sulfur deficiency. Soil sampling should be performed before planting, preferably during fall. Soil samplers should consider site-specific zone conditions and use this as an aid in determining application rates.

Feed and malt barley yield response curves are similar, although the most economic rates vary between crops. The yield response curves for malt barley and feed barley are similar, although the rate of N differs significantly. Protein content is largely determined by the environment, with drier soils exhibiting higher levels of protein. In Scott, for example, CDC Bow barley yield in 2018 was 51 bu/ac, but at 12.9% protein – high levels of protein are not desirable for malting.

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