16 June 1995

Winter barleys of quality

By Charles Abel

NEW winter barleys offering premium malting quality and yields to match top two-row feeders are the flavour of the month, as two new lines and a fast establishing newcomer were launched last week.

With a buoyant market forecast for the next few years and premiums up to £50/t, interest is understandable. Despite a 2% rise in winter barley plantings last autumn, certification figures show a 30% cut in top malting variety seed production this harvest.

Already in the market to meet that demand is Melanie from New Farm Crops. But Fanfare from Zeneca and Gleam from NFC will arrive next year – Gleam because it has yet to be recommended by NIAB and Fanfare because Zeneca held it back for a year.

Speculation over delay

Much speculation surrounds Fanfares delay, which comes despite provisional recommendation from NIAB and SAC for 1995 and by the Institute of Brewing for England and Wales. The seed trade suggests multiplication problems, a claim Mr Armstrong denies.

But he admits the company "learnt a lot about isolation and maintaining purity early in multiplication with Puffin and were putting that into practice with Fanfare".

Instead, he says the delay stems from the companys desire to give end users a better idea of the varietys abilities. That will help prevent supply exceeding market confidence, as has happened to other varieties, he points out. To that end 600t of crop harvested this summer will go into commercial trials.

Initial trials suggest good hot water extracts, outstripping Halcyon at all levels of nitrogen input. "It is a significant improvement," says Mr Armstrong. Indeed, a spirit yield four degree litres/kg ahead of current standards suggests a NIAB rating of 10 or more, not the 9 it has been awarded.

Yield matches top feed types, 14% ahead of Halcyon throughout the UK, he adds. Straw is not as stiff as Puffin, but better than Halcyon and Pipkin. Disease resistance is "sound all round" and a 72.9kg/hl specific weight suits exports. Target market share for 1996/7 is 5%.

Steve Smith for New Farm Crops reckons Gleam can compete. In NFC trials the Torrent/Puffin cross outyielded Fanfare by 1%, and official trials put it 2% ahead of Pastoral.

The variety is rated 9 for malting by the IoB, he says. Lodging is not a concern, rhynchosporium resistance is the best available and brown rust resistance is good, he stresses. What is more, it offers barley yellow mosaic virus resistance.

Industrial evaluation

Like Zeneca, NFC is growing commercial crops for industrial evaluation, entering 30t of seed this autumn, to produce 1000t for evaluation from next harvest. "Its the most important thing well do," comments Mr Smith. Target market share is 7% in 1996/7.

Meanwhile, 1000t of C2 Melanie seed is available this autumn – enough for 5% of the market. Although suitable throughout the UK, its particular strengths lie north of Newcastle, says Mr Smith. "Theres processing demand it can meet up there."

Malting quality is rated 9 and yield is 9% ahead of Halcyon.

Top standing power and earlier maturity than Fanfare, with no dormancy problems and provisional IoB approval are additional attributes.