23 July 1999


Enthusiasm for winter

barley has declined. But

choosing the correct

varieties is as important as

ever. Andrew Blake reports

ALTHOUGH there are 19 winter barleys on the Recommended List, just two, Regina and Fanfare, are likely to dominate next seasons sowings, according to NIABs Bill Handley.

Indeed dual-purpose Regina (105)*, which accounts for nearly a third of this years much reduced area, remains very much the target for others to beat. HGCA figures show the 1999 area is down 24% on 1998, mainly as a reaction to disappointing prices and increases in break crop plantings, Mr Handley believes.

With full UK Institute of Brewing approval, top standing power and potential output surpassed only by the six-rows Muscat (108) and newcomer Angela (110), Reginas only apparent faults lie its mildew and yellow rust susceptibility.

Fanfare (102), with IOB thumbs-up for the central and southern regions, is the second most popular variety with malting potential. "Many maltsters have adapted to cope with its well known post-harvest dormancy but others still tend to avoid it." Growers are well aware of the need to manage its weak straw and tendency to mildew, he adds.

Recently restricted

Weak-strawed Halcyon (93), first listed in 1985, should continue to find outlets, especially for traditional English ales. "But its IOB approval was recently restricted to the central and southern regions."

Provisionally recommended Rifle (100) has failed to match Reginas overall field performance and also lost its IOB approval this year.

Stiff straw and earliness makes rust-prone Melanie (97) attractive for northern growers where it is also IOB-approved. Pipkin has become outclassed.

Malting growers on barley mosaic infected land have only one choice – Gleam (99), Mr Handley suggests. "But it is excluded from some maltsters lists of preferred varieties."

Of the four newcomers to the list only Pearl (105) has any malting potential, recently gaining provisional IOB UK approval. "It stands better than Fanfare and has good disease resistance though it is somewhat susceptible to net blotch."

For maximum yield of feed quality grain there is a choice of three six-row varieties, Manitou (105), Muscat and newcomer Angela, the last two both resistant to barley mosaic virus.

Manitou is outclassed for most UK growers, but remains recommended for the north where its early ripening is appreciated.

"Muscat is unusual for a six-row in that it can produce specific weights as high as some two-rows."

Stiff-strawed Angela is the lists top yielder but lacks Muscats specific weight potential. It has good mildew and net blotch resistance and early signs are that it is more winter hardy than Manitou.

Feed mainstay

Among the two-rows Pastoral (102), the mainstay for feed growers for several years, bold-grained, long-strawed Intro (101) and rhyncho-resistant Hanna face increasing competition. Challengers include Vertige (104), Jewel (103) and newcomers Heligan (104) and Flute (102).

Vertiges main attributes are stiff straw and good net blotch resistance. "Jewels combination of characters make it clearly the best choice for feed production on barley mosaic infected land," says Mr Handley. Barley mosaic resister Epic (97) is uncompetitive.

Heligan matches Regina for treated yield and straw strength, but has slightly better disease resistance reflected in a marginally higher untreated yield. Key feature is its big, bold grain.

Flutes real strength is its foliar disease resistance. "It offers growers the real opportunity to maximise gross margins by reducing fungicide inputs," says Mr Handley.

*Treated yield relative to average of Fanfare, Fighter, Gleam, Halcyon and Muscat.


WINTER oat growers have a choice of half-a-dozen conventional varieties on the HGCA-funded list.

Fully recommended Gerald and Aintree have similar treated yields (101) though the former has a slight edge untreated. Aintree is a bit taller and weaker-strawed, but it is the earliest ripener, says NIABs Clare Leaman.

Image, first listed in 1987, is slightly lower yielding and weaker still than Aintree. It is also prone to crown rust, but has a high kernel weight making it more suitable for milling.

Provisionally recommended Jalna and newcomer Kingfisher have joint top treated yield, slightly ahead of Aintree and Gerald. Kingfsher is the longer and weaker of the pair.

Viscount, this years second newcomer, is specially recommended for areas where crown rust is prevalent, having top-rated resistance. "It has short, stiff straw and is early to ripen but is susceptible to mildew," says Mrs Leaman.

There is a trio of naked varieties, Lexicon leading outclassed Harpoon and Krypton. Despite being slightly lower yielding than Krypton, Lexicon has become the favoured contract variety. "It has fairly good mildew and crown rust resistance." &#42

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