The winter barley recommended list is the strongest it has been for many years. This is evident in improved yield and agronomic value among two-row feed varieties and more consistent performance among the best six-rows.
In what has been another challenging growing season – with a very wet autumn and dry spring – harvest reports indicate considerable yield variation associated with soil and weather stress, with output down by at least 10 per cent.
Encouragingly, many newer varieties have performed relatively well in AHDB trials, with their specific weight also holding up well. Barley varieties with most value to Scottish and north region growers for sowing this autumn are highlighted below.
Two-rowed feed varieties
Jordan is a new two-row feed variety with a competitive treated yield. A very high untreated yield along with good specific weight and low screenings contribute to its high agronomic value. It has short straw with intermediate strength, with above average resistance to Rhynchosporium.
KWS Cassia remains on the Scottish List as a specific use variety with excellent specific weight. Although becoming outclassed in trials, it has been consistently good on farm. Resistance to lodging is good. Mildew and Rhynchosporium resistance are weak, but net blotch resistance is relatively good. Grain maturity is about average.
KWS Creswell produces its best treated yields in the north region, but a very low untreated yield reflects weaknesses to mildew and net blotch. Straw length and stiffness are average. Specific weight and screenings are intermediate. It performs well on lighter textured soils.
KWS Hawking is a new high-yielding variety with intermediate untreated yield. It has good specific weight and is intermediate for screenings, with average maturity and straw strength. It performs well on heavier textured soils.
KWS Orwell is just below the top varieties for yield and has intermediate specific weight. Its medium length straw is very stiff. It is very weak against mildew, but has average resistance to Rhynchosporium, and an intermediate untreated yield. It performs well across all soil types and its agronomic value is about average.
KWS Tower has been consistently good for treated yield and is intermediate for specific weight and screenings. It has very stiff straw, but weaknesses to net blotch and mildew contribute to a poor untreated yield. It has performed well on lighter textured soils.
LG Flynn combines high yield with excellent grain quality. Specific weight is very high and screenings are low. It has weak resistance to mildew, but intermediate resistance to Rhynchosporium and net blotch, and its untreated yield is about average. It has performed well on heavier textured soils. Overall, it has high agronomic value.
LG Mountain is the highest yielding two-row variety on the Scottish list. It has good specific weight and is relatively early to mature. Resistance to Rhynchosporium is relatively weak, whilst net blotch resistance is intermediate. It is well suited to heavier textured soils. Overall agronomic value is good.
Valerie has produced competitive yields with excellent specific weight and very low screenings. Strong agronomic features, including early maturity, stiff straw and good untreated yield contribute to high agronomic value.
Six-rowed feed varieties
Bazooka is hybrid variety with high treated yield and good untreated yield, though it can show weakness to mildew. It has a good specific weight and relatively low screenings. It has tall stiff straw but can lodge under high pressure situations. It yields well on heavier textured soils.
Belmont is a hybrid with outstanding treated yield, though yield loss has been very high in untreated trials, which reduces its overall agronomic value. It has good specific weight and is average for screenings. Other features such as maturity and straw stiffness are intermediate.
Funky is a conventional variety with a treated yield just below that of most hybrids. Its untreated yield is relatively high. It has very good specific weight but is prone to high screenings. It is the shortest six-rowed variety, and its straw is very stiff. It is very early maturing and performs well across all soil textures.
Libra is a hybrid variety with excellent specific weight, but a treated yield just below that of the other six-rows. It is early maturing and has good straw strength. Resistance to Rhynchosporium is relatively good, but it is weak against mildew. Yields have been best on heavier textured soils. Apart from treated yield, this variety has high agronomic value.
SY Baracooda is a hybrid variety with very high yield, good specific weight, and relatively low screenings. Good resistance to Rhynchosporium and mildew contribute to a high untreated yield. Its very tall straw may need protection from leaning and lodging under high pressure situations.
SY Kingsbarn is a hybrid with a combination of very high yield and specific weight, and low screenings. Untreated yield is relatively high, and its tall straw may need protection when lodging pressure is high. It has performed well on heavier textured soils.
Winter barley for malting
The Scottish market for winter malting varieties is just over 10 percent of the total UK intake. Malting varieties have a significant yield penalty compared to most feed varieties. Therefore, check market interest before sowing.
SY Venture has been removed from the Malting Barley Committee list for brewing. It is no longer under test in AHDB RL trials. Both treated and untreated yields are very poor, though specific weight is very good.
Craft has MBC full approval for brewing. Treated yield is relatively good for a malting variety, and specific weight is very good. Resistances to mildew, Rhynchosporium and net blotch are intermediate and straw stiffness is very good.
Electrum was recently granted MBC Full Approval for brewing. It has a relatively low yield but a very good specific weight. It has above average resistance to Rhynchosporium and is very early to mature.
Strength in the current winter barley list provides growers with opportunity to maintain yield and grain quality even under challenging growing conditions. Check AHDB harvest updates as results continue to come in.
In making choices, consider a variety’s agronomic value in grain quality, untreated yield and stability performance across the rotation. Choose the best combination of agronomic features and grain quality to suit growing conditions and management options on your farm.
Steve Hoad, SRUC
Article first published in the Scottish Farmer
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