WITH SEVEN new spring barleys added to the HGCA 2005/06 Recommended List and none removed, growers have 21 to choose from.

Three of the novelties, NFC Tipple from New Farm Crops and Nickerson”s Oxbridge and Westminster, are potential malting varieties still undergoing IOB tests.

The others, Waggon and Wicket from NFC, CPB Twyford”s Tocada and Advanta”s Power, are all pure feed types.

Each of the malters is likely to find a slightly different use, says HGCA trials consultant Peter Hanson.

NFC Tipple offers 3% more yield than the previous highest performer, Cocktail. “It”s a big jump. And all the indications so far are that quality is pretty well like Cocktail – very useful, but not exceptional.”

Short and stiff, its disease resistance is typical for a spring barley, namely good against mildew and brown rust, but weak on rhynchosporium and very susceptible to yellow rust.

Oxbridge”s target market is for malt for distilling, not brewing, where Troon is currently the highest yielding recommended variety.

“It looks as if its quality for distilling is every bit as good as Troon”s,” says Mr Hanson. “But the yield is well above.”

In the main north-eastern distilling area, it outyields Troon by 7% and even Cocktail by 3%. It has useful disease resistance, notably with a rating of 7 against rhynchosporium, though it is susceptible to yellow rust. “

There has been a lack of quality varieties with resistance to rhyncho, which is not an easy disease to control and is especially prevalent the further north and west you go.”

Westminster does not quite match Cocktail for yield. “However, this one has top malting quality of interest for brewing and distilling. Its hot water extract has been comfortably above Cellar”s which is the best so far.

“It also has low screenings which for growers is a big positive.”

With a score of 8 its resistance to rhynchosporium is even better than Oxbridge”s, he says. “However, its brown rust rating of 5 is a bit borderline. That will need managing.”

As the tallest listed spring barley, it may be of particular interest to livestock farmers, he suggests.

The reason for including four new feed barleys is that they all outyield the previous leader Doyen, explains Mr Hanson.

“They are a bit like buses. We haven”t had any improvement for years, and suddenly we have four. But there clearly isn”t room in the market for them all.”

Waggon shares top treated yield with Tocada and shares untreated top slot with Power.

It has medium height lodging resistant straw, with top mildew and brown rust resistance. But it is susceptible to rhynchosporium, an important consideration as much feed spring barley is grown in areas where the disease is troublesome, he says.

LODGING RESISTANT

Tocada is slightly taller, but just as lodging resistant and offers the same treated yield.

However, its lower untreated yield reflects a rather weak disease resistance package, says Mr Hanson. It is prone to brown rust and rhyncho and very susceptible to yellow rust.

Wicket”s treated yield – 4% better than Doyen and Spire – is just below the best. “It is resistant to brown rust and OK for the other diseases. It has stiff straw, but it is very short – 10cm shorter than anything else. So it isn”t going to lodge, but anyone who wants the straw could have a problem with this one.”

Power is only 2% adrift on treated yield and has good disease resistance. But its lodging resistance is not as good as the other newcomers”, says Mr Hanson.