29th January 2020

Why LG Diablo is making strides into the malting barley market

LG Diablo, which was recommended in 2018 and achieved full approval for distilling in 2019, is set to make significant in-roads into the spring barley acreage this spring and claim its place as a mainstream variety.

As with all malting barley’s, there is a considerable time lag between recommendation and market take-up. However this does give growers and end-users time to see how the variety really performs from one year to another, explains Dr Steve Hoad, of the SRUC.

“Newcomer LG Diablo is giving the end-users the confidence to break up the market dominance held by Concerto and more latterly Laureate, based on what they have seen from the variety over the last few years as it goes through testing and evaluation.”

“As a dual purpose variety with its very good grain and malting quality, LG Diablo ticks all the right boxes, and the results so far are very promising, with just the final hurdle of brewing approval to come later this spring,” he adds.


Don Peters, seed manager for Scotgrain Agriculture, the procurement arm of Bairds Malt, is excited about the addition of LG Diablo to the malting barley portfolio, having had the variety in macro scale evaluation over the last two years.

LG Diablo will be one of the mainstream varieties being contracted for harvest 2020. It was the first distilling bulk we processed from the 2019 crop and we are pleased to report vigorous germination despite the relative immaturity.”

“The malt quality showed high extract and associated predicted spirit yield, so we are confident our distiller customers will be pleased with the variety when they process it.”

“One of the reasons LG Diablo processes so well is that its hot water extract is a similar level to that of Concerto – a trait that helped Concerto to become a benchmark variety. A high hot water extract is heavily desired by the end user in order for them to achieve higher sugar extraction rates from the malt and the ability to create more alcohol”, explains arable technical manager for Limagrain, Ron Granger.

LG Diablo also has a very good specific weight, which is important in the malting industry as malting is a volume-based process and low specific weights cause reduced throughput in the processing plants.”

He points out that this will be more significant than ever this spring with more barley going into the ground across the UK to make up the deficit from reduced autumn winter wheat plantings, as in times of over production, growers with low specific weight parcels will incur penalties if specifications are not met.


For growers and processors alike, LG Diablo’s very high yields are exciting, particularly in the north with a yield of 107%, out-performing other leading varieties such as RGT Planet and Laureate, by a significant amount, he says. LG Diablo’s untreated yields also sit at the top of the table alongside Laureate at 97% of control, and 2% over that of RGT Planet, demonstrating the variety’s very robust disease resistance profile.

“The variety has shown resilience, as shown by its consistent yield performance in the very testing seasons of 2018 and 2019.”

In terms of agronomic package, LG Diablo has straw characteristics similar to RGT Planet; medium in height (73cm) with good lodging and brackling resistance. On the 2020/21 AHDB Recommended List, LG Diablo’s maturity is rated at +1,” says Mr Granger.


Gordon and Graham Mackie of The Laws Farm, Kingennie, Dundee, have grown LG Diablo for two seasons and have been so pleased with its performance, that they will up the acreage this spring.

“We talk to Bairds malt about any new varieties worth looking at and try a small area alongside our established varieties. A couple of years ago, we started growing a small area of LG Diablo alongside Chronicle and Sassy to see how it would do on our farm – and whereas before we have seen slight incremental improvements from a new variety, LG Diablo demonstrated a real step change in performance,” Gordon explains.

“We have had fantastic yields across the farm in different fields and very different seasons. Last year we had over 7.5 t/ha, and no issues with quality.”

“There’s no doubt the variety is pushing the boundaries of current yields whilst holding onto its quality specification.”

“Maturity wasn’t an issue for us, and let’s face it, we can’t harvest over 80 hectares of barley in a day, so a spread of varieties and maturities works well. We harvest the Chronicle first, then Sassy followed by LG Diablo.”

“Importantly, straw yields are also good.”

“In the wetter conditions last year, we didn’t see any skinning or brackling. We also found LG Diablo easy to handle in the combine; it thrashed well, and it flowed really easily, taking half the time to tip.”


Further north, the enthusiasm for LG Diablo is as strong; Stewart Grant of TW Grant, Faich-hill Farm, Gartly near Huntly, started growing a small amount of LG Diablo after being impressed with it in local trials.

“It certainly looked like it ticked all of the farmer boxes, and it has not disappointed. LG Diablo was our highest yielding variety last year, bringing in around 7.9 t/ha – well above that of Concerto and Laureate, with no quality rejections.”

Mr Grant likes to have a range of maturities so that he can spread harvest out, so last year the Concerto was harvested first, then Laureate followed by LG Diablo.

Mr Grant will aim to grow about 120 hectares of LG Diablo again this year, if not a fraction more, depending on his field sizes and will stick with the three varieties as it helps to manage risk, and spread out harvest.

This is an approach that his agronomist John Watts of Agrii fully supports. “Having such a large area down to one variety is simply not an option.”

“We adopt a “little and often” approach to fungicide use, applying three sprays at approximately three week intervals which we find gives us good, season long protection.”

“This is important not only in maximising yield but also in protecting malting quality in an area which can get significant rainfall. The 2019 growing season demonstrated this with a very wet June presenting us with lush crops carrying tremendous yield potential but with high Rhynchosporium pressure.”

“The LG Diablo responded well to our fungicide programme and delivered good yields which fell within malting specification.”


The Laws Farm, Kingennie, Dundee Faich-hill Farm, Gartly, Huntly
400 hectares between 3 sites 540 hectares
Rotation of potatoes (ware), wheat, spring barley, winter oats, oilseed rape, winter barley, 75 suckler herd Rotation spring & winter barley & permanent grass
Soils in good condition range from sandy loam to heavier clay loam Soils are predominantly good loamy soils
Cultivations for spring barley: conventional plough and 1 pass system with seed sown behind harrow Cultivations: Plough, drill and roll
2019 LG Diablo drilled between 28th and 30th March at a rate of 200kg/ha 2019 LG Diablo drilled beginning March at a rate of 190kg/ha
Fungicides:Kestrel (Prothioconazole + tebuconazole), Jager (Porthioconazole + trifloxystrobin), Inception Xpro (Bixafen) and Chlorothalonil Fungicides: Kestrel (Prothioconazole + tebuconazole),Helix  (prothioconazole+ spiroxamine Jager (Porthioconazole + trifloxystrobin), Inception Xpro (Bixafen) and Chlorothalonil
Herbicides:  Orient (Pendimethalin and Picolinafen) Pre-emeregence Herbicicides: Inka SX (tribnuron-methyl + thfensulfuron-methyl) Claencrop Gallifrey 3 (fluroxypyr), Axial Pro (pinoxaden)
Nutrition: 500kg/ha Yara 14:13:21 + S compound at sowing and a top dressing of 177kg/ha of 33.5% N Yara Extran at crop emergence Nutrition: 350kg/ha 10:26:26 at sowing


The Grants target 120kg/ha N on their malting barley so 245kg/ha Nitram is top dressed on as soon as tramlines are visible

Harvest Date: 25-08-19 Harvest Date: Beginning Sept


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