Core Ideas No planting date from early September to mid-October consistently resulted in maximum winter survival. Two key environmental variables, fall growing degree days and snow cover at or below −4°F contributed to winter survival. The cultivar McGregor had the highest winter survival and grain yield among the cultivars tested. Winter survival was positively associated with grain yield. Additional research and breeding for winter hardiness will be needed to improve winter survival and grain yield. Winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is currently being developed as a new cash crop with potential to provide both economic and environmental benefits in Minnesota. In a field experiment, three winter barley cultivars that exhibited different levels of winter hardiness were sown at four planting dates (early September to mid-October with a ∼2-week interval between each planting date) in St. Paul from 2010–2013 and 2015–2018 and in Lamberton from 2015–2019. Fall growing degree days (GDD), winter snow coverage, winter survival, and grain yield were evaluated across 10 site-years. Only 50% of site-years had a winter survival at 20% or greater when averaged across all planting dates and cultivars. No specific planting date consistently resulted in maximum winter survival. McGregor, a non-malting barley, had the highest winter survival and yield. Planting dates that resulted in fall-accumulated GDD from 600 to 1400 were associated with better winter survival in years with sufficient snow cover. Less than 4 inches of snow cover and temperatures at or below −4°F for more than 3 days led to poor winter survival in 5 of the 10 site-years. Continued breeding for improved winter hardiness and agronomic research that provides best management practices will be needed to develop a practical winter barley cropping system for Minnesota.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Crop Research Program sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Additional funding was provided by the American Malting Barley Association. Special thanks to Ed Schiefelbein, Guillermo Velasquez, and Steve Quiring for their assistance in conducting field studies.