STRONG EUROPEAN demand for a spring barley variety that failed to make UK recommended lists could boost export opportunities for south coast growers, says Advanta.

In the UK Sebastian failed to make the 2003 HGCA Recommended List, but demand is currently strong in France and Denmark due to its malting characteristics, the firm said.

But growers looking to export to these markets must be sure they have a secure contract in place before moving away from varieties already established in the UK and Europe, NIAB advised.

“You need to get a good buy-back contract agreed before making this choice,” said NIAB‘s Clare Leaman.

“There are other choices on the recommended list, such as Optic and Cocktail that offer better all round options. Optic in particular is already well known on the continent.”

But for many south coast growers, the nearest maltings for non-export varieties like Cocktail are in Essex and Burton-on-Trent, resulting in haulage costs of up to £15/t, said Advanta‘s Paul Hickman.

“By comparison, for Sebastian to reach the export market via Southampton would only incur a haulage charge of about £5/t.”

This significantly reduces the costs incurred, which is particularly important if crops are rejected or downgraded to feed, he said.