Recent studies of precision cereal farming systems have documented large within-field and annual variation in grain yield and quality. The principal aim of the present study was to evaluate the degree of within- and between-field variation in biomass, yield, yield component structure and quality traits, such as grain protein of two-row barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), using crop samples collected from field patches of varying yield potential. Plant samples were collected from the fields of commercial farmers located in southern Finland in 2000 and 2001. Selection of low, intermediate and high yielding patches for crop sampling was based on aerial infrared colour images taken twice during the growing season. When stands were mature, plant samples from an area of 0·5 m2 were uprooted for yield component and quality analysis. Nitrogen accumulation prior to heading was strongly associated with biomass accumulation, indicating differences in growth potential of the different field patches. The principal yield determining trait in two-row barley was grain number/m2, whereas single grain weight (SGW) had a lesser effect on grain yield. The degree of variation in the quality parameters, namely protein and SGW, was not associated with grain yield. This suggests that within-field variation in yield potential does not determine heterogeneity of the grain yield in terms of grain weight or grain protein content.
- barley quality