Combining Efforts, Part 2: Mountain Horticultural Research Station

Read Part 1 of this 2022 harvest series here

After a multi-year hiatus driven by the pandemic and site flooding, I’m pleased to report that malting barley field days have returned to the Mountain Horticultural Research Station in Mills River, North Carolina.

This year, participants were treated to presentations from Dr. Angela Post, Dr. Kristin Hicks, and Dr. Ryan Heiniger. Dr. Hicks and Post covered the preliminary results of their five-year study on nitrogen management for malting barley quality and yield. Their findings point to the importance of soil type and crop precedence in the rotation schedule.


The conversation around corn management was particularly interesting. Early on we advised growers to avoid following corn with malting barley to avoid disease and fungal pressure that is typically found in the corn stubble that remains in the field following harvest. Preliminary results suggest that disease pressure is no longer a major concern, and that following corn could actually save money in fertilizer usage. This occurs as a result of the increased residual nitrogen remaining in the soil following the intensive management of the summer’s corn crop.

This data also supported lower overall usage rates of fertilizer to achieve proper protein levels and high test weight grain. This is excellent news given the current prices for these amendments.

Dr. Heiniger covered the results of the Official Variety Trial (OVT) program that is orchestrated across the state. OVT assists both public and private breeders by testing new varieties across a wide geographic range using a standardized methodology. This approach allows researchers to study newly developed varieties, such as Avalon 2-row barley from Virginia Tech, against more established varieties like Calypso and Violetta.

Also of note was the performance of the super plump 6-row variety called Hirondella. We’ve been watching this variety closely as it continues to be a class leader in yield and overall crop quality.

Conditions are shaping up for another strong harvest this summer. Stay tuned for more news and notes from the field!

-Brent Manning