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Meeting farm and market demands through variety choice

Spring Barley - SpeciBic weight (kg/hl)

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Sienna is a high yielding, non-GN, malting spring barley, which carries IBD approval for malt distilling use. Yielding 102 per cent in the latest AHDB Recommended List, what sets Sienna apart from these varieties is its specific weight which sits way above benchmark ‘quality varieties’ such as Concerto and Propino, notes Limagrain arable technical manager Ron Granger. “The significance of this is that Sienna is the first variety that offers both high yields and good specific weight, which until now has not been possible to achieve as grain quality usually suffers as a consequence of high yields. “Varieties with good specific weight appear to be more robust

AHDB Recommended list 2018/19


Good yield

in 2018,” he says. On farm, Sienna exhibits many of the positive traits associated with the feed variety Westminster, offering livestock farmers a higher yielding alternative. Sienna is relatively taller strawed like Concerto but offers good resistance to lodging and brackling, says Limagrain. The variety also has a good disease resistance profile, says Douglas Bonn of Nickerson who is seeing a lot of interest in the variety in Scotland, “as it’s a really useful variety on farm that also has excellent marketing attributes.” ■

Mike Dagg of Simpsons Malt in Berwick-upon-Tweed says that Sienna competes very favourably with any other variety in the market place. “It was one of the highest yielding spring barley varieties last season, and also delivered in terms of quality. “This quality was confirmed in our own malting tests; grain size was good and feedback from farmers was that Sienna looked really good in the field ‘like a malting barley should. “For all of these reasons, it is currently our intention to increase the volumes of Sienna we purchase

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AHDB predictions are for another big area of spring barley in the UK in 2018, possibly even bigger than in 2017, as spring barley remains the spring crop of choice for farmers managing black-grass and this remains the principle driver of the spring barley area. Scotland is also set to see a growth in area as the wet early autumn conditions may well have prevented the desired area of winter wheat from being planted, particularly in southern Scotland with area possibly being rolled over to spring barley instead, says AHDB’s Jack Watts. “The increase in spring barley area has created an oversupply and farmers ought to be budgeting for the fact that feed barley prices are likely to remain some way below that of feed wheat.” “Increasingly, the UK now has more than enough malting quality barley for domestic use and exports. As such, we often see malting barley that does not have a contract find demand in the feed market. “The quality issues of the last harvest have helped to support malting premiums, but if farmers are budgeting on selling malting barley then they ought to consider the contracts on offer using a pricing mechanism that suits.” Mr Watts recognises that in some regions straw from spring barley provides a significant boost to

Limagrain arable technical manager Ron Granger.



Sienna offers both high yields and good specific weight.

All of this underlines the importance of making the right choice of variety that meets market requirements, and also performs on farm, says Limagrain UK’s Les Daubney. “This season really tested many spring barley varieties with long periods of very dry weather, and varieties that withstood the spring drought delivered high yields, and there will be a tendency to choose these varieties again. “However, it’s not enough to choose to grow these varieties on their yields alone, it’s really important to choose varieties that the end-users will buy, so do your research well. “We work closely with growers and end users to ensure that we are bringing varieties to the market that offer top yields, but also with a flexibility of marketing options and solid on-farm agronomics, he adds. “Any grower aiming for the malt or grain distilling market should be aware that some barley varieties produce glycosidic nitriles (GN) at high levels when they are malted and ethyl carbamate when the malt is distilled. Because these compounds are potentially harmful, non-GN varieties are preferred by the end-user so is something to bear in mind when selecting varieties,” he explains.

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The right choice


gross margin, but adds that it’s very regional given its bulk nature and cost of transport.

against stress such as drought and this is something that we have seen clearly with Sienna last year. “We know that farmers like to grow big, bold samples, and, like wheat varieties, a good specific weight would appear to be more robust especially in time of stress or erratic weather patterns, and we have seen this effect from Sienna. “It’s also a high tillering variety so it is able to compensate for tillers that are lost early in the season, without too much impact on final yield. Varieties with high tillering and good specific weight always do well in drought conditions.”

SpeciBic weight (kg/hl)

With predictions for larger spring barley hectarages this year, it’s more important than ever to choose a variety that the market wants, growers are advised.


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