One of the three winter barley varieties making it onto the 2010 Recommended List has been very well received by the whole industry.


KWS Cassia, a two-row feed variety, is seen as step forward and a good option for growers, solving some of the problems with existing choices.

“KWS Cassia has Retriever-type yields, together with better specific weight and good straw characteristics,” says NIAB’s Clare Leaman. “That means it could challenge for a slice of the six-row market.”

Masstock’s Barry Barker sees it as an improvement. “Although barley growers are traditional and take time to change from proven varieties, this is an opportunity that will bring them benefits. It’s also got mosaic virus resistance.”

Marion Self of Prime Agriculture describes it is promising, but highlights a potential weakness in its Rhynchosporium resistance of 4.

Frontier’s David Waite sees KWS Cassia as a Saffron replacement. “We’re really pleased to have it on the list. It’s a no brainer.”

However, he points out that the hybrid variety Volume stands out in front of all others in the north region, with a clear 5% yield advantage. “The hybrids are hard to beat in north east Scotland.”

The other two winter barleys on the new list are both malting types, so their future is still in the hands of the maltsters.

Winsome and Purdey 
Winsome and Purdey still have to prove themselves in maltsters’ tests.

Winsome and Purdey are in the early stages of testing and growers won’t know any more about their market acceptability until the summer.

“They’re similar to existing choices,” says Mrs Leaman. “Winsome is slightly higher yielding than Flagon and has stronger straw, while Purdey offers mosaic virus resistance.”

Openfield’s Lee Bennett picks out Winsome of the two. “It’s stronger agronomically, more uniform and has a nice grain sample. It also offers earliness at last.”

Spring barley: Propino proves its malting ability

The two new spring barleys joining the list both lead their respective groups for yield, but are going to have to prove their worth against some established existing choices.

One feed and one malting spring barley make their appearance this year, although seed supply of both is extremely limited.

Mr Barker reckons malting type Propino is similar to Quench, but with better Rhynchosporium resistance. “Obviously its success will depend on the maltsters but growers are unlikely to lose out by trying it.”

Others feel that it’s been added to the list too soon. “Propino’s got the yield, it’s strong on disease and it holds onto its ears, but its specific weight is low,” says Mr Bennett.

“It has to compete with Tipple and Quench, as well as Concerto, so the market may not be ready for it.”

TAG’s Dave Robinson agrees. “Given the lack of contracts and low prices around at the moment, this is a bad year to launch a malting barley.”

The new feed variety Garner is an improvement on Waggon, but many question the reason for growing a feed variety in the first place.

“It isn’t a huge market and you have to consider the malting varieties as well. So it will be up against the likes of Quench, making it another choice within a group,” says Mrs Leaman.

But Mr Barker believes it will attract interest for on-farm feeding. “It’s as good as Waggon but with Rhynchosporium resistance.”

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Oats

A good yield and the ability to stay upright are the key characteristics in winter oats, and newcomer Balado offers both of these, comments Mr Robinson.

“Compared with Gerald, the most popular winter oat, Balado is a real improvement,” he says.

Its low disease resistance ratings aren’t a problem, he adds. “Gerald is the same and oats tend to tolerate diseases pretty well. They’re not very responsive to fungicides.”

Others are also enthusiastic. “Balado is a good addition,” says Clare Leaman. “It’s time to move on from Gerald now.”

“Everyone’s had their eye on Balado,” says Mr Waite. “Yields are 5% higher than its closest rival and 9% more than Gerald.”

The naked oat Fusion has also been approved, on the combination of its lodging resistance and good specific weight. 

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