SY Kingsbarn is the newest in the line-up of Hyvido hybrids from breeder Syngenta.

Delivering a UK treated yield of 10.7 t/ha on the 2019/20 AHDB Recommended List, 1% above the popular hybrid Bazooka, it adds to the trend seen among hybrid barley over recent years, of higher yields combined with improved grain specific weight.

“At 69.9 kg/hl, the specific weight of SY Kingsbarn is around 1 kg/hl above Bazooka,” says Syngenta marketing manager for hybrid barley, Mark Bullen. “Its grain quality is further underlined by a lack of small grains: SY Kingsbarn has the lowest screenings figures of any six-row barley on the AHDB Recommended List.

“Concerns about grain quality used to put some growers off six-row barley, but the average specific weight of hybrids on the AHDB Recommended List has increased over the last 16 seasons. It’s now at the point where it equals the average for conventional two-row feed barleys,” he adds.

This combination of improved quality and yield, coupled with other timely hybrid benefits – such as providing another crop in rotations for the three-crop rule; providing an early harvest as an entry for winter oilseed rape; and providing a vigorous crop to compete against black-grass – have fuelled a rise in the popularity of hybrid barley, believes Mr Bullen.

Roughly one in three winter feed barley fields in the UK is now in a hybrid, he says, and nearly 30% of winter barleys on the AHDB Recommended List are now hybrids.

“Another important feature of SY Kingsbarn is the consistency of its high yields,” adds Mr Bullen. “As a percentage of control varieties, its annual treated yield on the AHDB Recommended List has only varied by 1% over the last three seasons. Reliable yields are important with volatile grain prices.

“Agronomically, SY Kingsbarn also offers good all-round disease resistance, which is reflected in its high untreated yield. Plus, it has good standing power: it has an 8 rating for lodging resistance on the AHDB Recommended List.”

To help growers choose between popular hybrids, Mr Bullen believes Bazooka will appeal most to growers looking to stick with a tried and tested hybrid, while SY Kingsbarn will appeal to those looking to try something new that offers a step upwards. The hybrid, Belmont, launched last year, is for growers looking for even higher UK treated yield potential and prepared to manage it accordingly, he adds.

According to Syngenta seeds technical manager, Paul Roche, research into the competitive effects of hybrid barley against grass weeds has historically focused on suppression of black-grass. However, new research is expanding into other species.

“Work by ADAS has shown good suppression of brome and reduced brome seed return per square metre from hybrid barley compared with winter wheat and conventional two-row barley,” says Mr Roche. “Hybrid barley’s competitive effects against rye-grass are also being investigated,” he adds.