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Spring Barley Choices for 2024

27 March 2024

This article is produced as a part of the FAS Crops & Soils Bulletin. Subscribe now to receive the full report in your inbox monthly.

The leading malting varieties, with full MBC approval, are Laureate and LG Diablo for malt distilling and brewing, KWS Sassy and Firefoxx for malt distilling, and Fairing for grain distilling. 

These established malting choices are supported by SY Tennyson for malt distilling and brewing and Diviner for malt distilling; both varieties are in their second year on the recommended list. 

The 2024/25 spring barley list includes five new varieties. Belter and Olsen have potential for malt distilling and brewing, whilst NOS Munro has potential for malt distilling. Bounty and NOS Gambit have potential for brewing. All five new malting varieties may also have value for feed use. 

Choice Features

Features of the main choices are as follows. 

Laureate: Dominates maltsters’ intake. Its yield is now just below that of new varieties. It has good grain quality and agronomic features, including above average resistance to Rhynchosporium. 

LG Diablo: Has maintained a steady Scottish intake. It has the same yield as Laureate. Apart from its later maturity, it has good agronomic features.  

KWS Sassy: Like LG Diablo, it retains Scottish malting interest. It has very good grain quality, but its agronomic yield is becoming outclassed. It is relatively tall, with similar maturity to Laureate. 

Firefoxx: Starting to take market share. It out-yields other established varieties and is relatively early to mature. With good agronomic features, good grain quality and relatively low skinning risk this variety looks attractive for growers and users.     

Fairing: Has a specific recommendation for grain distilling, where its malt of high enzyme content is required for converting starch in a cereal mash. Its grain yield is well below that of other recommended varieties, but very early maturity and excellent resistance to Rhynchosporium are among very good agronomic features.  

SY Tennyson: Has MBC Provisional Approval for both malt distilling and brewing. It is high yielding. It is later to mature than Laureate and has intermediate agronomic features. 

Diviner: Is very high yielding malting variety and has MBC Provisional Approval for malt distilling. It has similar maturity to Laureate, but resistance to Rhynchosporium is relatively weak. Grain skinning risk is relatively low.  

Skyway: Is a brewing variety with good yield and very good agronomic features. It may also suit feed growers who favour good specific weight, early maturity and good disease resistance.  

RGT Planet: This long-established brewing and feed variety is becoming outclassed for yield but it has been very consistent in its farm performance, and is early maturing.  

Belter: Is a new high yielding variety with potential for both malt distilling and brewing. It has good agronomic features, though maturity is slightly later than Laureate. It has very low screenings. 

Olsen: Is a new high yielding variety with potential for both malt distilling and brewing. It has good agronomic features, including very stiff straw, though it is slightly later to mature than Laureate. 

NOS Munro:  Is a new high yielding variety with potential for malt distilling. It has above average screenings and lowish specific weight.  

SY Signet: Is a high yielding brewing with MBC Provisional Approval for brewing. It has intermediate agronomic features and grain quality. 

Hurler: Is a very high yielding feed variety. Its specific weight is lowish, but other agronomic features are good.    

The spring wheat list has seven choices for 2024/25, including the new Group 2 variety WPB Mylo. KWS Harsum in Group 1 and KWS Alicium in Group 2 are both in their second year on the list, and support the established varieties KWS Fixum, KWS Cochise and KWS Ladum. 

The leading spring oat varieties Canyon, Merlin and WPB Isabel are joined by a new variety Asterion.  


Steve Hoad, SRUC

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