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Tips to scout your 2020 barley crop

Tips to scout your 2020 barley crop

Farmers in northern Alberta seeded late this spring, so crop scouting might look a little different than usual

Staff Writer

In your first check of your barley this year, you should examine how well the crop has established, said Kristina Polziehn. She’s the owner and agronomist at Axiom Agronomy in Sturgeon County, Alta.  

“This allows you to start assessing if there were some issues with seeding. Did you have issues with equipment?” she told “I also like to look at our plant counts. Are your counts in line with your seeding rate? If you're targeting 25 plants per square foot, is that what you're getting based on your seeding rate?”

Usually, at this time of year, barley in Alberta is the three- to five-leaf range. This spring, however, growers faced wet weather and some producers still had to harvest their 2019 crop. So, some farmers pushed seeding back, said Polziehn.

“I've got a range from five leaf all the way to just seeded last week and is germinating,” she said.

When barley is in the two- to three-leaf range, Polziehn does a lot of scouting and starts to determine herbicide application timing. Since a lot of producers missed their pre-seed herbicide applications due to the challenging spring, it’s important to get out and see where weeds are at now, said Polziehn.

A lot of fields are also quite saturated due to recent heavy rainfall in northern Alberta. So, producers should watch for root rot, she said.

Producers should also monitor for diseases like netted and spot blotch, as well as pests like wireworms.

Since “we've had so much moisture, our disease levels will be something to keep an eye on. The last thing we need is disease setting in and taking off,” said Polziehn.

Although it’s been a tough start to the year, producers are optimistic and hoping for warmer weather to help kickstart the crop’s growth, said Polziehn.

Photo credit: Kristina Polziehn

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