Growing barley in Victoria

Barley growers have access to a number of barley varieties.

Identifying which variety

Identifying the variety that is best suited to a region and will give the greatest return depends on the following factors:

  • relative yield
  • disease resistance
  • marketing options
  • probability of achieving particular quality grades
  • relative End Point Royalty (EPR) charged on varieties

Why grow barley?

Barley has been grown in Victoria for more than 100 years. In recent times barley has gained on its traditional rival for area, wheat, where it has traditionally been the poorer cousin.

In Victoria’s north west, barley has been yielding higher in drier springs due to its ability to fill grain at 5 degree warmer temperatures. It is better adapted to the light textured sandy soils of the Mallee.

It enjoys 2 degrees extra frost resistance compared to wheat. The crop has been cheaper to grow and this combination has meant good grower returns from barley.

New herbicide tolerant varieties have also allowed growers the ability to control a pesky north west Victorian weed, Brome Grass (Bromus diandrus).  Barley is often grown in rotation with wheat and care must be taken to rotate broadleaf crops to minimise the root diseases Take All (Gaeumannomyces graminis) and Cereal Cyst Nematode (Heterodera avenae) which are common to both crops.

Foliar diseases, however, are species specific. The crop has similar soil requirements to canola and dislikes waterlogging and strongly acidic soils.

Growing malt or feed

The decision to grow either a malting or feed variety may depend on one or more factors, including;

  • the difference in payments between malting and feed grades related to yield differences
  • the probability of producing a malting grade barley
  • availability of malting storage segregations in storage facilities
  • disease resistance and agronomic considerations

For long-term stability in farm returns and market supply and demand, farmers now growing only feed varieties should consider including some malting varieties in their cropping.

It is important that growers contact grain marketers to discuss market demand before sowing a malting variety.

Malting barley is grown, stored and sold on a variety specific basis and it is important to ascertain if the variety chosen is able to be stored and marketed in your area.

See the Victorian winter crop summary for an up to date guide to barley varieties and last season's yield results.

Page last updated: 04 Mar 2024