Barley offers resistance to potentially devastating disease

Winter barley growers have a new line of defence this autumn, with the introduction of a high-yielding feed variety, resistant to soil-borne diseases.

Candidate variety Aretha has been bred in Germany and could be added to the Recommended List later this year.

It joins Valerie, Kitty and Newmarket, as a variety with resistance to both Type 1 and 2 strains of barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV).

Up to 2023, the Type 1 strain has been dominant in the UK. But in the past two years, Type 2 has started affecting varieties with resistance to Type 1.

See also: New barley virus strain puts resistant varieties at risk

That’s why, Cope Seeds’ managing director Gemma Clarke, says there is a need for more BaYMV-resistant varieties.

“While the agricultural community has long been aware of and protected against Type 1, the impact of Type 2 remains less understood. Like Type 1, Type 2 is a soil-borne disease that can be devastating.

“It is often misidentified as a nutrient deficiency and can only be detected through soil testing.”

She warns that BaYMV Type 2 can persist in the soil for up to 20 years and cause up to a 50% reduction in yield.

Other agronomic traits include a high yield, early maturity and tall plants with stiff straw.

A limited amount of Aretha winter barley will be available this autumn, through local seed merchants.

Barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV)

  • The disease is only found in winter-sown barley
  • It is spread by the soil-borne parasitic vector Polymyxa graminis and infects crop roots
  • The virus survives in spores and can persist in the soil for more than 20 years, even if cereal crops are not grown
  • Symptoms include stunted plants with pale yellow streaks in the leaves, which are often found in patches in early spring, following a prolonged cold spell
  • The streaks can become brown or purple at the leaf tip and dark brown flecking may replace yellow streaking
  • Yield losses from the virus can be as high as 50%

Need a contractor?

Find one now