MALTING BARLEY growers will have greater variety choice in the near future as two new varieties are set to hit the market from Nickersons.

The varieties called Oxbridge and Westminster are currently undergoing IOB evaluation, said the firm‘s marketing director, Frank Curtis.

They are likely to receive provisional IOB approval next June, with full approval expected by June 2006 when they will be made widely available to farmers, he said.

Changes to the malting barley market and the IOB approval system in particular, mean varieties need to be better suited to their end use, said Nickerson‘s spring barley manager, Mark Glew.

“The spring barley market is becoming increasingly segmented because specification is now more and more precise – often requiring characteristics not on the Recommended List.”

Oxbridge, with its inherently low grain nitrogen among other characteristics, will be aimed at the distilling industry, which is at the core of the Scottish malting barley sector, he said.

Westminster offers growers more flexibility and is suitable for either brewing or distilling, he said, highlighting its good Rhynchosporium resistance (RL score of 8) as its most significant characteristic.

The variety is also the tallest spring barley on the Recommended List, which could potentially mean higher straw yields, he said.

“This is worthy of note, because as the winter barley area contracts, spring barley straw becomes more important to farmers.”