12 January 2022 Barley News

With harvest finished up we’ve received feedback from growers that Spartacus CL has experienced brackling in some areas.

Brackling is different from either lodging or head loss (see figure 1). Brackling is kinking or buckling of the stem at or near the upper node, effecting the top 1/3 of the plant, and typically occurs as the straw dries out. This form of straw weakness is due to both genetic and environmental effects. There are a number of hypotheses as to why this has been an issue particularly in the northern Wimmera and Mallee this season but no conclusive answers.

What we have observed

  • Paddock reports indicate varieties have different susceptibility to brackling.

  • Spartacus CL appears to be more susceptible to brackling whilst Maximus CL, appears to be one of the improved varieties in side-by-side trial observations.

  • Spartacus CL has very good head retention (good peduncle strength), but can suffer considerable yield loss when brackled, as it is difficult to get all crop into the header front, with some heads falling below the cutter bar

  • Genetically, there is little correlation between brackling and traditional head loss susceptibility. However, brackling can result in head loss (heads still on the straw) due to challenging harvest conditions

  • Lodging, head loss and brackling are all different and varieties need to be rated for each of these traits separately.

  • Environmental conditions influence all these traits

    Spartacus CL (L) vs Maximus CL (R) observed during 2020 harvest at Dimboola, Vic.

Maximus[pbr-logo] CL (L) vs Spartacus CL[pbr-logo] (R) observed at Matt Rhodes’ Northern Wimmera property, December 2021.

Variety – Straw Strength Agronomics

Given the differences in varietal susceptibilities to brackling, lodging and head loss, it is important to know a variety’s rating for each of these traits when choosing a variety. The table below provides a summary of these traits as observed in InterGrain internal trials and the 2021 Victorian Crop Sowing guide. Key points worth noting are:

  • Maximus CL is considered a significant improvement compared to Spartacus CL for brackling and is generally considered to have a relatively low risk of lodging and head loss

  • Commodus CL has a lower brackling risk than Spartacus CL, although has a moderate head loss and lodging risk, especially in higher yielding environments

 When making your choice about a variety, it’s about weighing up what characteristics you need from your variety and what yield you are expecting.

Figure 1. InterGrain Clearfield® Barley traits