U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



COMMUN. SOIL SCI. PLANTANAL., 30(17&18), 2551-2562 (1999)


Variable precipitation in many regions makes it difficult to predict yield goals and nitrogen (N) rates for malting grade barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). During years with below normal growing season precipitation, barley fertilized at the recommended rate often exhibits grain protein concentrations exceeding what is acceptable for malting. A study was conducted to evaluate the chlorophyll meter as a N management tool. Barley was grown under several N rates in the field. Chlorophyll meter readings and N additions were made at the Haun 4 to 5 growth stage, and grain yield and protein concentrations were evaluated at maturity. Chlorophyll meter readings, normalized as meter reading from treatment plot divided by that from a plot receiving a full N treatment at the Haun 4 to 5 growth stage, were correlated with grain yield (r2=0.67). Stands having normalized chlorophyll meter readings below 95% responded to N additions with yields equivalent to the fully fertilized stand and grain protein concentrations acceptable for malting. A N management strategy is proposed whereby 40 to 50% of the N calculated for the yield goal is applied at planting and a fully fertilized reference strip is included for each variety or soil type. At the Haun 4 to 5 growth stage, chlorophyll meter readings are taken in the reference strip and in the field. Normalized chlorophyll meter readings below 95% of the reference strip indicate a need for additional N fertilizer. This strategy will provide producers with additional time (up to a month) to evaluate growing season conditions before investing in additional crop inputs and will improve the likelihood that a barley crop acceptable for malting will be produced.