The trio of new spring barley varieties in the HGCA Recommended List 2009 continue the trend for yields to rise by about 0.5% a year, according to Peter Hanson of the RL team.
The yield gap between specialist types and more general purpose ones is also steadily closing, he adds.
Two of the three newcomers, Cropton and Forensic, are from Syngenta Seeds. Concerto is from Nickerson. All are recommended for the whole of the UK. “They’re all potential quality types,” says Mr Hanson.
All are short-strawed with “pretty good” resistance to lodging. “There’s some variation in resistance to brackling, but nothing spectacular.”
Cropton may be suitable for brewing though it is still undergoing Institute of Brewing and Distilling, he cautions.
Its yield matches that of Quench, which has yet to be fully IBD approved, and shades fully recommended NFC-Tipple by 3%.
It has top ratings for resistance to lodging, brackling and mildew, but is only moderate against brown rust.
Concerto’s potential markets are brewing and, still to be confirmed by IDB, malt distilling where the standard is Oxbridge with a yield rating of 99 of controls. “Concerto on 105 looks an interesting jump up. It has excellent treated yield for a dual-purpose variety.”
Its only real disease weakness is against rhynchosporium, he notes.
Forensic is a potential replacement in the expanding grain distilling market for Decanter which it outyields by 8% in the north-east.
Its output is similar to that of Belgravia which is a year ahead in the trials system and targeting the same market.
“But its disease resistance package is moderate – fives across the board. The view of IBD will be crucial,” says Mr Hanson.
Appaloosa, Static and Wicket are no longer recommended.
New trials address grain distilling dilemma
Assessing grain distilling quality of new varieties could be speeded up thanks to a new set of HGCA trials, Mr Hanson hopes.
The problem until recently has been that distillers, unable to source industrial quantities of high protein grain, have had to rely on micro-malting tests. And standard RL fertilising protocols do not produce such grain, he explains.
So last season, for the first time, potentially useful varieties were grown at five sites under a high N fertiliser regime to see if the required high protein grain could be produced.
Unfortunately only two succeeded, climate and geography interfering, Mr Hanson suspects.