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Make a Winning Seed Selection: 4 Questions to Consider

TaylorAnn Cantwell

Choosing which seed you will plant is the starting point of growing a successful crop, but with so many options in the marketplace where do you start? Here at Marc Arnusch Farms, we like to work the equation backward by asking ourselves the following questions.

  1. What is my goal? Who you are selling your grain to following harvest should be top of mind.
  2. Do I have any limitations I need to work around? 
  3. Where will I source the seed that I need?
  4. Seed Protection Options

End Use Marketing

Barley is a versatile grain that can be used for human consumption, feeding, and most commonly for malting. In recent years, demand for local grains has increased with the explosion of the craft beer and spirits industry. To fuel this demand, common malting varieties continue to be adapted to larger growing areas. New variety production is also a high priority to meet the needs of farmers and maltsters. (Check out the map on our homepage: to see all the places our barley seed is.)

Before a seed goes in the ground you should have an end destination in mind. Plus, know what that end user expects out of the barley, they purchase from you. 

Through our malt barley program, we work with a variety of malt houses by catering to their variety requests and protein requirements. If you are hauling to your local elevator your marketing plan might be centered around growing a bin-busting crop. Whatever your marketing goals, make sure your seed selection matches where you’re heading.

Potential Limiting Factors

  1. Water should be top of mind for producers. Here in Prospect Valley, and many areas in the West, we have a limited water supply. Selecting something early to early-medium maturing is typically a good option for these areas. This allows us to take advantage of any winter moisture available in the profile early. Those with surface water rights can take deliveries in the early summer and have the crop made by the time the August heat rolls in. Producers in wetter climates or with ample irrigation water need to focus on varieties that aren’t as prone to lodging. (In 2023 we plan to test some varieties for potential dryland production, stay tuned.)
  2. Agronomic challenges pose an imminent threat to your barley crop. Pay close attention to the agronomic packages of each variety to see if they are resistant to problem diseases in your area. Seed-applied treatments should be considered for all variety choices as an extra layer of protection. Additionally, farmers pursuing superior yields using a high input management practice should seek out varieties bred to be naturally low protein producers. 
  3. Residue management is sometimes an afterthought, but picking the right variety for your situation is an integral part of your plan. Barley varieties come in a variety of heights and straw strengths to suit your needs for spreading or baling your straw. 

Seed Sourcing

How you source your seed matters. Finding a seed dealer who offers the seed varieties you need is an important first step, but the service element they provide is just as important. 

When looking for a seed provider make sure they are Certified seed dealers licensed to grow the varieties you are searching for. This is important to ensure the seed you are ordering is genetically pure and has been cleaned to a high standard. Furthermore, some companies offer unique packaging options, seed treatments, and coordinate shipping to your farm.

See more on our process.

Seed Protection Options

Seed treatments are an important part of our small grains program, so we recommend them to our customers too. There are many treatment options on the market for cereal crops, but the two we use at Marc Arnusch Farms, are Syngenta’s CruiserMaxx Vibrance and Awaken ST from Loveland Products.

CruiserMaxx safeguards seeds and young root systems from a broad range of soilborne and seed-borne issues; as well as, insects. Common root rot, Fusarium Seed Scab, and Septoria are a few of the included diseases CruiserMaxx Vibrance protects from. Wireworms and European Chafer are also both suppressed by the treatment. Seed with CruiserMaxx Vibrance exhibit an overall increased vigor and higher yields than their untreated counterparts. 

Awaken ST is another fantastic seed treatment option, especially when paired with CruiserMaxx Vibrance or another seed treatment. A boost of crucial micronutrients allows for early plant nutrition and uptake of more available nutrients by the plant early and often. These extra nutrients promote early plant vigor and growth improving yields. Root systems also become better established providing better drought and stress tolerance. 

For more help selecting the right variety for your farm call Marc Arnusch Farms at 303-732-4074. If you would like to learn more about our varietal offerings check out LCS Genie and LCS Odyssey on our website.