Management options for producers who traditionally plant barley for grain or forage
The objective of the experiment was to evaluate barley management options by varying seed band width, seeding rates, and harvest endpoint under dryland production conditions in Northern Montana. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a factorial arrangement and was conducted for three years. Treatments consisted of two cultivars ('Harrington' and 'Haybet'), two band widths (125 mm and 193 mm), and three seeding rates (140, 184 and 226 seeds m-2). Year effects were significant. All established plant populations were lower than planned. Band width was confounded with seeding rate. Established plant populations increased from the narrow to the wide band width, any effect attributed to band width appears to be more what would be expected for increasing the seeding rate. Malt quality was never achieved and no treatment combination aided in moving the quality towards an acceptable malt grade of barley. Feed barley production was greatest in 2001 for the lowest seeding rate where as in 2002 and 2003 no difference existed between seeding rates.No beneficial water use patterns were established for any management endpoint or management option. Whole plant DM forage yield favored the highest seeding rate increasing 368 kg over the lowest seeding rate for the early harvest (soft dough) and when the crop matured 7 d longer, DM yield increased by 408 kg over both the lower rates. Nitrate-N was reduced 16 and 19% in the highest seeding rate for the early and late harvest, respectively. Reductions in Nitrate-N exhibited a linear and quadratic response for the early and a linear response for late harvest. With no quadratic affect observed for DM yield and substantially lower established plants m-2 than predicted, additional research of seeding rate and band width interactions may be warranted to optimize both forage and grain production. Optimal management strategies for grain production and forage production were different, especially for seeding rate. A producer should decide on how the crop is to be utilized prior to planting of the crop.