Low Input Barley

Enhance Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producers
Research Year: 

Barley is an important component of the crop mixture in Arizona. It improves the soil and breaks pest cycles, and thus benefits subsequent crops such as cotton and vegetables. Growers wish to recover their production costs when growing barley. This has become more difficult with the rising costs of inputs such as irrigation water and fertilizer. In 2005, about 30,000 acres of barley were harvested in Arizona, valued at $8 million.

Description of Action: 

University of Arizona researchers have evaluated low input barley varieties at the Maricopa Agricultural Center for the past 15 years, and released a new variety, Solar. The new variety was selected out of a group of 142 lines of barley in the breeding program.


The University of Arizona released a low input barley cultivar named Solar in 2006. Compared with Solum, a low input barley released in 1991, Solar has 10 percent higher grain yield, 11percent higher grain test weight, and 24 percent less tendency to lodge (tip over) than Barcott, a high input barley sometimes grown in Arizona under reduced water use conditions. When grown under low input conditions at the Maricopa Agricultural Center, Solar yielded an average of 320 pounds more per acre than Solum and a surprising 682 pounds per acre more than Barcott.

Grain yield of low input barley is about half that of high input barley, but it requires only a third of the irrigation water and a quarter of the fertilizer. Therefore, if water and fertilizer costs are high, growing low input barley can be more economical. The potential savings by growing low input barley is about 2 acre-ft per acre of water and 150 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre grown.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council

Conact Name: 
Michael J. Ottman
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

1140 E. South Campus Dr.

Plant Sciences Department

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 85721

Tel: 520-621-1583 FAX: 520-621-7186