Barley quality targets will depend on the end user’s required specification e.g. livestock feed or malt for the brewing industry. The main traits to consider are grain nitrogen %, specific weight, moisture and grain weight.
Macronutrients for Barley Grain Quality
The two most important macronutrients to consider are nitrogen and potassium. A well balanced nutrient program should therefore be the aim. Too much or too little of any of these nutrients can have a negative effect. Excess nitrogen will lead to high grain protein which may or may not be desirable. It could also cause the crop to lodge with the eventual consequence being a delayed harvest and grains that begin to grow in the ear.
Micronutrients for Barley Grain Quality
The secondary nutrient sulfur can influence grain nitrogen and protein composition. Calcium and boron improve cell wall strength which contribute to reducing the risk of lodging. Excess nutrient can also be detrimental. Too much sulfur for example can either interact with molybdenum or taint the flavours of the products developed from the malting process.