Bumper year for barley as 11 varieties join list

ELEVEN NEW barleys, seven of them spring types, have been added to the HGCA 2005/06 Recommended Lists.

“This has been a bumper year for barley in our trials system,” says Peter Hanson, RL trials consultant. “There are quite a lot of new recommendations.”

All four winter types represent a real advance over current varieties, he adds. They are Flagon, from New Farm Crops, Saffron from CPB Twyford, Spectrum from Nickerson (UK) and Amarena from Saaten Union.

“Flagon is a new malting barley a lot better than Pearl. Saffron is a very high yielding feed. Spectrum is another feed which sets new standards for lodging resistance, and Amarena is a very disease resistant six-row with a special recommendation for the north.”

Two-row Flagon yields 4% more than Pearl and is slightly earlier throughout the UK. “It is still under test as a potential brewing variety. But all the data we have had to date indicates a hot water extract higher than Pearl”s and it has had no processing problems so far.

“It does, however, have a lower diastatic power which means it won”t be suitable for all the markets that Pearl is. But for most it should still be OK.” Its slightly higher screenings should present few problems, he believes.

It has a good disease resistance package and is a similar height to Pearl, though weaker strawed.

“I think this variety is very much one for the specialist malting grower, not the opportunist. It will have to be managed for the malting market, not least because there are some very exciting feed barleys coming through.”

The first of these is two-row Saffron, which outyields the highest conventional six-row, Sequel, and offers 4% more than Cannock and last year”s two-row addition Camion.

It also has good specific weight, 69.9kg/hl, and short stiff straw like Camion”s.

Disease resistance is pretty good all round, except for mildew and barley mosaic virus, says Mr Hanson.

Two-row Spectrum”s key attribute is exceptionally stiff straw. In none of the HGCA trials did it go down whereas other stiff types like Camion and Cannock had significant levels of lodging.

“That”s clearly going to be of interest to growers. It also has implications for yield.”

That is because it still gave more than Camion and Cannock, suggesting that it could have been pushed harder and produced more, he says.

Its other plus is resistance to barley mosaic virus. Otherwise its disease resistance is much the same as the other main mosaic resister, Carat, which it outyields by 3%.

“Its brown rust rating is a little low at 5, but that”s probably manageable.”

Its specific weight is also low – of the two-rows only Cannock is lower.

Amarena”s main feature is its “powerful” disease resistance. With the exception of mosaic virus and yellow rust, to which it is susceptible, it rates 8 or 9.

“As you might imagine that translates into very good untreated yields – the highest on the list.”

It is specifically recommended for the north where, treated, it outyields Siberia. “It doesn”t match Sequel or Pict for specific weight, but it should be a cheap and easy variety to grow.”