Lions share of malting crop is with 3 varieties
• Three varieties – Chariot, Derkado and Prisma – on 80% of area
• Seed supplies of these tight
• Optic may suit earlier fields
• Tankard looks a promising newcomer
JUST three varieties will make up the bulk of this seasons Scottish malting barley crop, says David Cranstoun of the SAC.
Chariot and Prisma, the latter recommended for the eighth year running, will take about 60% of the area, he believes. Chariot doubled its malting sales last year to over 200,000t, and shows no signs of a decline.
"In 1991 maltsters bought 77,000t of Prisma. In 1993 they bought 145,000t, and in 1995 over 200,000t. It may be technically outclassed, but in practice it is a variety that delivers the goods on the farm, in the maltings and at the distillers."
Derkado peaked in 1994, losing 6% of total spring barley market share last year. But Dr Cranstoun expects it will still account for nearly 20% of the market this season. "Two things will arrest its decline – the shortage of Chariot and Prisma, and the fact that some distillers consider it irreplaceable. They want over 100,000t so they may need to contract it in future."
Several other varieties will share the remaining 20%. "Camargue slipped to 6% of the market in 1995. If growers can buy other seed, it will slip further now the Institute of Brewing has removed approval.
"Cooper does not have full approval for Scotland so is still very much a small player.
"With Optic, its too soon to say, although it looks like it is going to be too late for some farms. Whether that is 25%, 50% or 75% of the area I cant say."
"In yield and quality terms the variety is very attractive. But we always tend to underestimate maturity differences. My worry is in some areas that could make it a week later. In parts of Aberdeenshire, that would have been very significant this year."
To help avoid problems, growers should sow late varieties in their earliest fields, he advises. "In later areas which normally start harvest in the last week of August, growers should only consider drilling a variety like Optic in fields that are usually the first to be cut. And dont do too good a job with a late fungicide – a quarter-rate cocktail should control most outbreaks at early ear emergence without delaying maturity."
Newcomer Tankard should help send the message to breeders not to disregard earliness, says Dr Cranstoun. The variety has provisional regional recommendation and, if it gains IOB approval, could be fully recommended for 1998.
Although Tankard had very good malting extract, and outyielded Cooper in the north-east, if it had been a late variety those attributes would not have put it on the list. Earliness, between Chariot and Cooper, helped secure its recommendation, says Dr Cranstoun.
SCOTS MALTING FACTS
Choosing early fields for later-maturing spring barley will speed ripening. Reducing doses of late fungicide will also help to avoid delays.