Hybrid barley breakthrough
SIX-ROW hybrid varieties could be as big a breakthrough for barley as semi-dwarf varieties were for wheat, says the SAC.
"I am confident they will yield 10% over the best six-rows in trials and sometimes 15% over," says David Cranstoun. "I have had five years of experience with them, so this is not a one-day wonder."
On high output sites yields have regularly been in the 9-10t/ha (3.6-4t/acre) bracket, he notes. "That is an awful lot of grain." Breeder New Farm Crops believes fine-tuned agronomy should mean even bigger gains, he adds.
"It may knock out some second wheat and if it proves itself and growers remain disgruntled with malting premiums it could replace some spring barley too, provided the trade buys it. Remember, only 60% of the spring barley in Scotland makes malting even in a good year."
Seed should be commercially available in 2003, subject to National Listing. But the variety has yet to clear second year National List trials.
A question mark hangs over its brown rust resistance and plant growth regulators will probably be needed, says Dr Cranstoun.
Even if the first variety disappoints even better ones are in the pipeline, he says. *
Would you look at the ears on that! SACs David Cranstoun, says hybrid barleys are a very exciting development for growers.