by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Nearly 100-grain producers and crop advisers braved the weather to attend the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop. Speakers at the workshop included Dr. Kenneth Hellevang of the Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering Department at the North Dakota State University, Dr. Margaret Smith, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Breeding and Genetics; Weed Scientist, Dr. Russ Hahn, School of Integrative Plant Science, Soil and Crop Sciences at Cornell University; Dr. Gary Bergstrom, Professor of Plant Pathology, Cornell University Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and producer Donn Branton of Le Roy, NY.
Hellevang, noted as an expert on managing flooding, indoor moisture and molds, spoke on best management practices for drying and storing small grains, focusing on natural air drying, which is frequently used for barley and other small grains, as it allows for rapid harvest, is economical and efficient. Hellevang explained that various zones within the bin provide key points with natural air drying and that the several feet of buffer zone in the bottom of the bin allow for fans to be run 24 hours a day, without drawing excess nighttime humidity into the grain. “I really encourage people to think of running the fans 24 hours a day and adding a little bit of supplemental heat rather than shutting the fan off at night.” Fans should be off during rain, snow and fog, to avoid pulling moisture into the bin.
When designing drying systems, the climatic condition at the time of harvesting and drying is one factor to consider. Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) shows that the moisture content of the air is equal to the moisture content of the grain. Noting that New York has an average of about 70 percent humidity during the month of August, Hellevang calculated that at 70 degrees and 70 percent relative humidity, natural air dried barley would be at 13.3 percent moisture. The acceptable long-term moisture content for barley is about12 percent. “We can adjust the condition of that air by adding a little bit of supplemental heat. Warming the air reduces the relative humidity.”
“The allowable storage time (AST) of grain is affected by both the grain temperature and moisture content. What we typically want is only enough heat to warm the air about 5 degrees.” He explained that many folks don’t understand that friction loss from air going through the fan will provide an extra 3 to 5 degrees of heat. Warming the air from 70 to 75 degrees causes the relative humidity to drop to 60 percent, making the EMC about 11.7, which falls within the desirable moisture content range. The maximum grain depth for drying barley is 20 feet. “As a rule of thumb, to achieve an airflow rate on 0.75 cfm/bu. at that depth will require about one horsepower per 1,000 bushels.” Hellevang recommends low speed centrifugal fans for efficiency and quietness. Perforated floors and level bins help provide the best airflow. “We need to be very concerned about malting barley’s short shelf life. Adequate airflow to dry the barley within its allowable storage time is critical.” Dr. Margaret Smith reported winter and spring malting barley variety trial results from taken from regional testing sites across the state. “There is potential for New York growers because of that farm brewery law,” stated Smith. “There are also lots of challenges for New York growers. Grain diseases are a going to be a major challenge that will have to be managed.”
One focus is how to keep it from sprouting on the head while being sure it will sprout once it gets to the malt house. “There’s a bit of a balance there that’s going to be tricky.” Winter survival is another problem that growers will have to contend with. 2-year trials show winter survival rates below 70 percent. “If you’ve got 60 to 70 percent winter survival, what are you going to have in the spring?” So, which varieties are most promising for New York? At this time, the three winter varieties being closely examined are 2-row varieties including KWS Scala, Sytepee and WintMalt. While WintMalt has a lower rating for winter survival than the other two top varieties, all three have other challenges. For instance, protein value should be at or below 11 percent for malting and all three varieties test higher, with KWS Scala coming closest at 11.8 percent. Diastatic Power should be 150 ASBC or less. Sytepee tests above that. Beta Glucan must be 140 ppm or less and while all 3 varieties fall well below this guideline, all 3 fail at the FAN score, which should be less than 150 ppm. WintMalt scored 260, while KWS Scala came the closest with a score of 168.
Spring varieties of Malting Barley had similar results. The top three varieties being considered are Conlon and AAC Synergy- both 2-row varieties, and Quest, a 6-row variety. “I think the Malting Barley area is going to be real challenging, just for getting the right quality and the right connections at the malt house. You need to be able to produce the crop and make sure you can market it,” Smith commented.
Dr. Gary Bergstorm reported on specific diseases found in the 2014 Malting Barley trials. Observations made in Bergstrom’s lab from the limited number of test plots for malting barley confirmed a variety of 12 diseases. Some of this disease was found to come through the root system. The diseases included Halo Spot, Loose Smut, Bacterial Blight, Fusarium Root Rot, Rhizoctonia Root Rot, Snow Mold, Scald, Spot Blotch, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew, Fusarium Head Blight and Net Blotch. “Net Blotch in barley is shaping up to be one of our challenges in growing malting barley here in N ew York State,” Bergstrom reported. “I’m seeing a lot of Net Blotch in the field.”
Ergot is another disease that has resurfaced.
Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic Virus, a soil borne disease prevalent in wheat, occurs statewide in soil, surviving from year to year. Bergstrom reported that a related virus attacks barley and, although it has not been noted in New York yet, he advises to watch for it in winter barley crops. Dr. Russ Hahn commented that weeds are another issue. “Controlling weeds is a challenge in malting barley, as control options are limited.” A handout from Cornell Regional Agronomist Bill Verbeten, who has been working closely with malting barley trials, addressed growing the crop in New York State. He advises planting in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.3-7.0. Nitrogen should be added according to specific recommendations found in the Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management. Winter varieties should be planted during the second half of September. Verbeten notes that October plantings have a higher incidence of winterkill. Spring varieties planted as early as possible in April and May depending on elevations. Malting barley should not follow corn, other small grains or grass fields.
Following soybeans, buckwheat, vegetable crops or clover will reduce chances of Fusarium Head Blight, which remains the major disease. Seed treated with fungicides reduce soil borne diseases. Cereal leaf beetles are major insect pests. Insecticide and/or diatomaceous earth should be used before storage. “Be sure to clean out and treat grain storage bins prior to harvest.” Verbeten advises working closely with malt houses to secure a market before planting the crop.
For more information contact CNY Regional Field Crop Specialist Kevin Ganoe at 315-866-7920.
NYS 2014 Malting Barley trial results reported at CNY 2015 Small Grain Workshop
by Elizabeth A. Tomlin