Using more resilient varieties is one of the most effective ways of reducing disease risk – and there is increasing interest in looking at untreated yields of varieties in trials and looking at the disease ratings. There are some good advances in treated yields and that is still a strong driver in picking varieties – but looking at the yield loss when untreated is always useful.
In two-row feed varieties, the top yields in current trials are produced by LG Mountain, KWS Creswell, KWS Orwell and KWS Infinity. Feed varieties with the best grain quality are Valerie, KWS Cassia and LG Flynn. Most two-varieties have a weakness to one or more of the major diseases e.g. mildew, rhynchosporium or net blotch so if you have a history of one of these diseases then specifically check that rating.
The list of six-row varieties is dominated by hybrids; for 2019/20 there are two new hybrids, SY Baracooda and SY Kingsbarn. The best conventional six-row varieties are Funky and KWS Astaire.
Market size for winter malting varieties remains small, at about 10 percent of the UK total. Malting varieties have a significant yield penalty compared to most feed varieties. Specific weight, maturity and straw stiffness should also be considered when making variety choices.
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