Spring barley is a cool-season cereal grain that is generally planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. It can be grown in most of the United States, but it requires a long growing season and temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. Spring barley prefers fertile soil with good drainage and adequate moisture, but it tolerates drought well once established. The crop is susceptible to diseases caused by fungi, viruses, and bacteria.

Spring barley grows best when planted immediately after harvest or when there is an interval of at least 35 days between planting and harvest. Spring barley does not tolerate cold weather well; it should be planted in regions where there is no danger of freezing temperatures until after frost danger has passed.

Barley requires little fertilizer for optimal growth. However, it does need certain nutrients at specific times during its life cycle. When planting spring barley, it’s important to prepare the soil by adding lime if necessary and working in organic matter such as manure or compost to increase soil fertility.

After planting, give your crop a light application of a balanced fertilizer (5-10-5) at a rate of 1 lb per 100 sq ft every three weeks until July 1st or until the plants are 6 inches tall. After this time period, switch to a nitrogen-based fertilizer (such as 35-0-0) at a rate of 1 lb per 100 sq ft every two weeks until harvest time (usually September).

Spring Barley Fertilizer Requirements

When planting spring barley, farmers should follow the appropriate fertilizer programs. Fertilizer applications should be made at the correct timing and at the correct rates. In addition to a balanced fertilizer program, spring barley farming must include additional P and K. For this crop, a pH of 6.5 is ideal, which can be raised with ground limestone. In addition, all fields should have a P and K index of three or more, which will help maximize the yield potential of the crop. A typical spring barley fertilizer program would involve the use of three bags of 18:6:12 at sowing, two bags of CAN (27%N) at early tillering, and additional P and K to be drilled in with the seed.

Fertilizer application timing

Fertilizer application timing for spring barley is dependent on soil and weather conditions. A balanced nitrogen application is important to optimize yields. Generally, the first N application should be applied when the crop is three to four weeks old or at the emergence stage. Alternatively, the first application can be delayed by one or two weeks depending on the weather conditions.

Fertilizer application timing for spring barley is best performed in early spring as this will stimulate leafy growth and flowering. However, it is important to apply fertilizer only at the right time because late freezes or snow can hinder new growth. Fertilizer is most effective when applied during the peak growing phase when plants are leafing out and putting on new growth.

Fertilizer application timing for spring barley varies according to soil type, growing conditions, and nutrient supply. Early phosphate applications can help establish the crop while the roots are developing. In addition, foliar applications can improve the phosphate status in the soil. Foliar phosphate can also improve early growth and prevent it from slowing down. Sulfur nutrition is also important for barley, as it provides the essential amino acids for plant growth.

Preplant nitrogen

A pre-plant application of nitrogen (N) to barley is an important step in raising a high-yielding crop. Generally, all N for the barley crop should be applied before planting. Preplant applications contribute to improved yield more than post-crop top-dressing. The timing and method of pre-plant N application depend on the crop type and the growing conditions. The most important factors that affect yield are temperature, soil moisture, and rainfall within a growing season. In addition, growers must manage the barley crop to maximize yields.

Application of N at tillering significantly increased grain yield, protein yield, and grain protein. However, the response varied widely among plots, and the yield response to N fertilization varied by variety. For example, UC Capay had higher yields but lower protein content than UC Tahoe.

In California, preplant N fertilization rates and timing were studied over 6 site years (2015-2018). Three regionally adapted varieties of malting barley were planted in a randomized complete block (RCBD) design at two sites: Davis and Esparto. Both sites were planted without irrigation and had mineral soils.

Rates of N

Depending on the soil type and preceding crop, rates of N in spring barley fertilizer will vary greatly. The best rate will depend on the expected yield and quality of malting barley. In addition, the amount of precipitation that will fall during the growing season will affect the application rate.

The present study aimed to develop baseline information on nitrogen recovery, nitrogen use efficiency, and agronomic performance of spring barley under three different N rates. This information can be used to identify inefficiencies in nitrogen nutrition and determine strategies to improve nitrogen use efficiency. The study involved three cultivars grown under low (0 kg N ha-1), moderate (50 kg ha-1), and high (100 kg N ha-1) fertilization rates.

The study was conducted at Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. The soil is Black Chernozem, which is suitable for growing barley. Precipitation during the growing season was 316 mm in 2007 and 280 mm in 2008, respectively. Researchers grew ten spring barley cultivars, including malt and two-row varieties. The experiment was conducted under a double-plot design so that each study had a control plot and an experimental plot.

For malting, barley requires adequate nitrogen for good yields. Excess nitrogen can lead to smaller kernel size and decreased yield. Excess nitrogen can also cause lodging, which lowers yield and increases the incidence of scab and fusarium head blight.


Sulfur has recently been the focus of attention in agronomic biofortification, an agricultural practice aiming to enrich plants with microelements through fertilization. This element has recently received particular attention following reports on soils in Poland and other countries suffering from sulfur deficiencies. In the present study, sulfur in different forms and rates was investigated in relation to the effect on spring barley grain yield, quality, and yield potential.

The goal of the S2 project was to improve nitrogen and sulfur fertilization management guidelines for modern spring barley varieties. In addition, the project aimed to assist farmers in reaching their N% target and high yield goals. The researchers found that sulfur fertilization increased the enzymatic activities of malt and reduced kernel size, while nitrogen fertilization decreased malting quality.

However, it is important to note that sulfur is poorly translocated around the plant, and so new growth is the first to suffer. This means that multiple applications are required during spring. Fortunately, foliar sulfur applications can help overcome transient deficiencies.


Phosphorus is a major nutrient in spring barley and a key component in plant nutrition. It is present in large amounts in active plant tissue, and cereal crops take up 75% of their phosphorus requirement within 40 days of emergence. Appropriate phosphate application will promote rapid growth and early maturity. It also enhances root growth, enabling the crop to reach deeper soil. Phosphorus is naturally found in plants in concentrations of 0.1 to 0.4% dry weight basis. Insufficient phosphorus levels will slow overall plant growth and delay crop maturity.

The effectiveness of fertilizers depends on their rate and application timing. Fertilizer applications should be spaced at least 25 cm from the seed and placed five centimeters below the seed. In addition, fertilizers should be banded near the seed to maximize P use efficiency. In some cases, phosphorus fertilizer must be broadcast as well as the band.

Phosphorus and nitrogen should be applied at the proper rate and timing to maximize productivity and minimize environmental impact. A typical spring barley fertilizer schedule calls for a half-dose of nitrogen at the time of sowing, one-third at the first irrigation, and the remaining one-third after the second irrigation. The nutrient requirements for barley are calculated based on the level of soil nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil and the stage of development. Nitrogen and phosphorus provide the energy necessary for early growth and root mass.


Spring barley requires a high Potassium content in its soil to support good yield. This mineral has traditionally received less attention than nitrogen but is now being recognized as a useful addition to fertilizer programs. It can improve yield, plant vigor, and lodging resistance. One trial carried out by Teagasc showed that K helped increase the efficiency of nitrogen use in spring barley crops.

Potassium is also necessary for winter barley because it improves water balance, controls stomata, and regulates cell juices. Potassium fertilizers should be applied in a balanced ratio with phosphorus. Potassium fertilizer rates vary with the type of barley and the growth stage.

This fertilizer was applied to six replicate plants for each barley genotype and nitrogen treatment. The plants were then transplanted into pots with Sunshine mix #4. In addition to phosphorus and potassium, a basic fertilizer mix was used in all trials. The fertilizers were added to the soil at a rate of ten pounds per acre.

Potassium is an essential nutrient for barley and must be applied at the right time. An excessive amount of nitrogen can reduce yield, cause lodging, and cause the crop to fail to mature. High levels of nitrogen also lead to an increased risk of diseases such as fusarium head blight and scabs. Lastly, excessive N can pollute groundwater, cause lodging, and reduce the percentage of plump kernels in malting barleys.

Phosphorus banding

Phosphorus banding in spring barry fertilizer requirements has a number of advantages. The side-banding method of applying phosphorus is safer than seed placement, and it can improve yields by nearly as much as seed placement. In some cases, side-banded phosphorus may even be better than seed-placed phosphorus.

Phosphorus banding is not necessary, but it does provide growers with an added convenience. In North Dakota, for example, banding phosphorus in the spring can increase kernel size, which is important for malting. The malting industry looks for plump kernels when accepting grain.

The nitrate-ammonium ratio was the most effective for both root and shoot growth. However, the phosphorus content was lowest in treatments that contained large proportions of ammonium. The optimal ratio for both of these components was 50: 50 or 75: 25.

Phosphorus banding in spring barley fertilizer requirements increases yield and vigor. In field trials, researchers placed P bands 5 cm below the seed. The treatments were applied between alternate rows. Phosphorus band placement increased grain yield on silty clay loam soils.

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