The trend of high yielding spring malting barley varieties suited for both brewing and distilling sectors looks set to gain momentum as new RL entrants come to the fore
The trend of high yielding spring malting barley varieties suited for both brewing and distilling sectors looks set to gain momentum as new RL entrants come to the fore. Dominic Kilburn reports on one variety that will interest growers north and south of the Scottish border.
A new malting spring barley variety looks set to deliver high yields and quality suitable for both the brewing and distilling markets. Laureate, a Candidate variety in 2015, (expected to become fully recommended on the AHDB RL in early December) is equally suited to Scottish growers and their end market as it is for growers in England, says breeder Syngenta.
Speaking at an event in early November, Syngenta’s head barley breeder, Paul Bury (left) said that the yield gap between pure brewing and distilling varieties had become much bigger in recent years which was not good for the industry. “There is a need for consistent performing and high yielding varieties for both sectors, and that’s what Laureate is,” he added.
“For us, ‘dual-purpose’ is not just about the quality requirements of a specific market but it’s about meeting the requirements of growers in those markets.
“We have shown we can develop varieties across international markets and we fully expect Laureate to follow in the footsteps Tipple, Quench and Propino in that regard.
“For UK growers the performance of Laureate in the UK is key, but if a variety is adapted to a wide range of soils and climates, that adds to its stability, and, in the case of Laureate, its European stability looks strong,” he explained.
According to Mr Bury, Laureate, which is a non-GN variety, is the highest yielding of any malting barley varieties in RL trials when taking the five year mean yields into account and, if fully recommended to the new Recommended List at the beginning of December, it should go on as the highest yielding dual-purpose variety, he said.
“Laureate has closed the yield gap between brewing and distilling varieties, becoming the highest yielding variety for the AHDB’s ‘North region’ and Scotland, which is something growers have been lacking there for distilling markets, and it is also great news for traders and distillers.
“It also performs very well in the East for brewing where it is the joint highest yielding variety,” he added.
As well as its excellent yield traits, Mr Bury said that Laureate had very good all-round disease resistance including the highest untreated yield of any spring barley in RL trials, and that it was particularly robust against late season disease.
“With medium straw length, Laureate doesn’t have significantly different characteristics to what farmers have been growing in their fields. However, we are working on a large number of trials so that we will have as much information on seed rates and agronomic advice as possible for when growers want to try it.”
Syngenta seed and seed treatment manager, Samantha Brooke added that Laureate would undergo IBD testing in 2016 with a view to getting full IBD approval in 2017. “We have a large production of seed for 2016, with in excess of 6,000t produced this year.
“It’s important that growers stick with what they know, such as a Propino or Concerto, and, initially, try a smaller area of a new variety like Laureate,” she suggested.
Also speaking at the event was Gleadell Agriculture’s malting barley trader and sales director, Stuart Shand (left). He admitted that 2015 had been a challenging year for the malting barley market but there were reasons for growers to remain optimistic.
A combination of factors including record yields, two big crop carry-overs, a larger spring cropping area and a 750,000t exportable surplus, meant that there was a glut of barley and over-supplied markets at a time when demand from countries such as China, Brazil and Russia was down.
“There is, however, a 3 per cent year-on-year increase in barley demand and both brewers and distillers in the UK forecast growth,” he explained.
“There will be big malt and barley stocks going into harvest 2016 and if growers are not on some sort of contract with a spring malting barley crop then they are gambling on a crop failure somewhere,” he warned.
According to Mr Shand, with plenty of volatility in markets, more and more growers were leaving their crop marketing to others. “It’s a general trend we are seeing, with more growers in pools and managing their risk with the tools that are available.
“There are numerous malting contract options, such as ‘premium over wheat futures’, but they need to pick the pool that suits their business best,” he added.
What is a dual-purpose variety?
Laureate for Distilling:- The highest yielding variety for Scotland and the North region – High spirit yield equal to Concerto- Non-GN (suitable for distilling)
Laureate for Brewing:- Joint highest yielding in the East region- High hot water extract- Good malting profile which fits the demands of brewers and maltsters