Speaking at the event, Limagrain managing director, Lee Robinson assured the attending members of the seed trade that the distilling market for spring barley remained a key focus for the company.
He acknowledged that Concerto which currently dominates the malting barley market will be difficult to replace in the short term due to its quality. “Over the last few years we have seen Concerto continue to take market share and in 2014 the variety made up 67.3% of MAGB spring barley purchases in Scotland.”
However he added that son of Concerto, Odyssey, had proved itself to be a sound alternative and that this choice has been widened with the recommendations of new non-GN, dual purpose varieties Octavia, Sienna and Olympus.
Mr Robinson outlined that it was still unclear where these varieties would fit in the market place and that Limagrain was committed to extensive macro trialing of the varieties to help the market to help to guage the performance of the varieties for brewing or distilling demands.
All of the varieties offer a step up in yield and agronomics from Odyssey pointed out Mark Glew, senior barley breeder with Limagrain.
“Olympus is a high yielder across all regions of the UK producing an average yield of 105, 4% above Odyssey and 10% above Belgravia in the north. In 2014, the variety performed so well and yielded within 1% of Planet and Irina at 109. If we see a yield like this again this year we will be very excited about the prospects for the variety.”
“Important to note is that Olympus holds a nitrogen content of 1.51%, well above Concerto (1.47%) which gives the variety a head start when aiming for the 1.85% needed for grain nitrogen.”
With a grain and malt quality very similar to Belgravia, Olympus is targeted at the grain distilling market and currently holds IBD provisional approval for malt and grain distilling.
“Sienna holds IBD provisional approval for malt distilling and brewing. The variety performs very well in the north (104) and west (105) and has the smallest difference between treated and untreated yields at 104 and 93 percent of controls respectively. This shows the robustness of its disease resistance, ” added Mr Glew.
“Sienna stands out with its high specific weight the highest for any variety on the recommended list an important feature for end users as high specific weight means increased volume which is also important should the variety be used for feed.”
“Whilst Sienna is a tall variety, it’s has an 8 rating for brackling and this puts it in a similar bracket to Westminster.”
Octavia is competitive with the âbrewing onlyâ varieties in England, yielding 106 in the east and 105 in the north says Mr Glew. âOctavia offers growers a variety that helps to spread the ripening across the farm it is earlier ripening than Concerto, so should be particularly attractive to northern growers.â
Octavia is the only variety with a higher hot water extract (HWE) than Concerto and so far has produced low grain nitrogen in trials. Octavia has IBD provisional approval for malt distilling and brewing.
Mr Glew underlined the breeders commitment to non GN barleys, demonstrated by the two candidate varieties currently in recommended list trials. High yielding Ovation (108%) is the only non GN barley that matches Planet for yield, so a very exciting offering. Origin, the second of these is the stiffest candidate on the list, also with a high yield of 106.
“Whilst high yield potential is key to the success of any new variety, the emphasis of our breeding programme reflects the increasing importance of grain quality and we are beginning to analyse factors that bring ‘consistency’ â that is to produce varieties in the field that will perform across seasons and positions.”