Winter barley harvest results from this year’s HGCA Recommended List trials are devoid of data for the potentially top-yielding variety.

Information on six-row hybrid Volume, provisionally recommended last autumn, is absent because breeder Syngenta supplied seed contaminated by a two-row variety, says RL manager Jim McVittie.

Volume, mean yield rated on 112, had previously outperformed all listed varieties, including the top two-row, Retriever – until now on 107.

But with about half the 21 trials assessed, Retriever is only one point adrift.

Despite the dry spring, the overall average, 8.8t/ha, is slightly up on the five-year mean and only just below last year’s 8.9t/ha, says Dr McVittie.

“It seems winter barleys weren’t affected by drought as much wheats.” However, only one result is so far from the west, he notes.

“Most varieties have performed as expected, showing growers can rely on these trials for their choices.”

Cassata, recently fully IBD-approved for malting, is matching established Flagon but has the edge with mosaic resistance. “Wintmalt is doing reasonably well, but the maltsters have turned it down,” says Dr McVittie.

Neither potential malting candidate – Winsome or mosaic-resistant Purdey – yet offers significant advances, he adds.

“The evidence is that they’re not much different to Flagon or Cassata for yield.”

However, mosaic-resistant feed KWS Cassia is close to Retriever. “It’s quite interesting and there is a lot of seed around,” says Dr McVittie.

Malabar, also mosaic-resistant, yields a bit more, but has low specific weight – on a par with Pelican’s 63.6kg/hl.

Pelican isn’t competing in the market place.” Growers generally prefer Sequel on 69.2kg/hl, he explains.

Syngenta’s Simon Phillips describes the absence of Volume data as “unfortunate”, but points out that plenty of independent information is available from previous seasons and private trials this season.

Whether Volume remains tagged as P1 rather than P2 in the 2009/2010 list remains undecided, says Dr McVittie. “As far as I can recall, this is the first time this has happened to a variety already recommended.”