Cereals 2018: Top-yielding winter barley variety launched

Seed breeder and agrochemical group Syngenta is launching the highest-yielding winter barley variety to growers this autumn, showing that hybrid six-row barleys are catching up with the grain quality of two-row varieties.

The hybrid Belmont yields 111% (or 10.66t/ha), equivalent to 2% more than the next-highest yielder, Bazooka, while its specific weight and disease resistance is much improved from early six-row hybrids.

Mark Bullen, the group’s seed campaign manager, said one in three fields of feed winter barley is now a hybrid variety as their high yields and blackgrass suppression qualities boost their popularity.

“The variety is a consistent performer and doesn’t seem to be phased by different years,” he told Farmers Weekly at Cereals 2018, held at Chrishall Grange in Cambridgeshire.

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However, only a limited amount of seed will be available this autumn to make up less than 1% of the feed winter barley area, although there will be plenty of seed available of older hybrids such as Bazooka and Belfry.

Syngenta added that its new winter malting barley variety Craft, which has recently gained full maltster approval, will be the leading malting variety this autumn, taking over from Venture, with a likely market share of the total winter barley area of about 7%.

“It a bigger, bolder grain with a higher yield than Venture, and will take a dominant position,” said the group’s seeds marketing manager, Tracy Creasy.

The winter barley market is about 20% down to malting varieties and 80% to feed ones.

The group was also launching its new hard milling feed wheat Gleam, which it sees as a flexible variety fitting well with early and late drillings and in first and second wheat positions.

“We expect the variety to sell out this autumn, with 3-4% of the wheat seed market,” said Mrs Creasy.

The variety has the second-highest yield on the AHDB Recommended List  at 105%, after Gravity on 106%.