November 11, 2014
Barley Seed Choices for the Spring
Barry Barker – Arable Seed Product Manager
Spring Barley remains by far the biggest spring crop in the UK. The effort breeders are putting into it is typified by the fact that there are 39 varieties currently in the Recommended List trial!
So how do you sort the wood from the trees? Clearly, if you are seeking a malting barley then you need to know that someone is wanting to buy it. There is little indication of where values will sit for harvest 15 malting barley but established varieties such as Propino and Tipple are likely to feature with end users. Concerto too will probably be wanted where growers can meet the specification, particularly in East Anglia. There will also be some possible export demand for certain varieties. KWS Irina looks likely to feature on the continent and probably in the UK too. But as mentioned before, it is essential that growers keep abreast of the likely local, national and international demands because there are a number of specialist varieties that could come into the equation.
These days the yield of new malting varieties is at least competitive with the listed feed types. Although there are a large number of varieties within a few percent of each other and therefore many quite capable of producing yields at the top end of expectations. So it is worth considering other characteristics when choosing varieties. Hacker is available for the first time this year. Although originally classified as a malting variety it is an extremely capable feed variety. Northern Ireland is the only place where official trials measure straw yield and Hacker was one of only four varieties rated ‘Very High’ for straw yields.
Additionally in this year’s official trials of the 39 varieties, Hacker was rated the 2nd earliest variety to mature, the 2nd highest specific weight, one of the best for low screenings, 4th for untreated straw strength and no lodging at all when treated. All combined with a 5 year yield average less than 4% behind Sanette and decent disease resistance. Yield is often the headline figure but good agronomics can be worth a lot more in difficult years.