A new malting barley has passed its first taste test by Australian drinkers.
A first batch of Victoria Bitter beer brewed from Arapiles barley was "fine", according to Donn Hawthorne of Carlton & United Breweries. Dr Hawthorne said the company is now conducting a second year's testing in a number of beer types including low-alcohol and medium-alcohol types. If it performed well, it would be established as a quality malting barley.
Bred with grower support through the GRDC, the new malting barley is named after a district in western Victoria. From the brewers' point of view, it is a potential replacement for Weeah and some Schooner. For growers, it is an excellent variety for much of the Wimmera.
The Australian Barley Board classified more than 55 per cent of Arapiles deliveries into the premium grade of Arapiles Malting No. 1, compared with a Victorian average of 30 per cent for all varieties combined.
Arapiles yields high, keeps protein low
Kevin Schultz of Kalkee confirmed that there was a strong demand for Arapiles from maltsters. He had no problems growing and harvesting the crop and found the yield similar to Schooner's — perhaps a little better— and the protein level lower.
Terry Green of Litchfield harvested a crop of Arapiles in 1994. His crop outyielded Schooner by l0 per cent in the same paddock, and produced 1 per cent less protein. "We were able to pre-drill urea before sowing, increasing the yield but still keeping the protein within the malting range," said Mr Green.
"Another advantage could be the fact that the heads hang down. Apparently this means they don't absorb moisture as much as Schooner, so are less likely to show sprouting.
"But it's a bit itchy to handle. It also tends to grow taller than Schooner and lodge, so the harvester has to go lower and slower," Mr Green said. His Arapiles "looks good" again this year.
Franklin looks good in the south
Bruce Wilson, who farms near Winchelsea, has grown Franklin for quite a few years and is comfortable with it because its malting quality makes it sought after by brewers. (Ground Cover readers will remember Franklin as the contender from Tasmania most notably linked to a GRDC-supported entrepreneurial high-class malt whiskey distillery on the island.)
"We have had yields up to 7.5 t/ha — to do this you have to supply a fair amount of nitrogen early in the life of the crop. It likes a fairly neutral soil situation. "Franklin's main problem is in a tight finishing season; the seed size can be small, with too many screenings," Mr Wilson said. "And when the grain is small the protein increases and it ceases to be good for malting."
"Some people in the area don't grow it because of low tolerance to the wet conditions. We don't have problems harvesting — it will lodge over but it doesn't actually fall down. But for this wetter area we are really looking for a better Franklin with larger grain size."
Brian Wilson, further west at Mingay, grew Franklin on land with subsurface drainage. He said without the drainage he would only be able to grow spring barleys. "We had about a five tonne crop in 1994 and got malting grain from most of it," he said. "But because it's such a good malting barley it germinates readily — you wouldn't want to risk big areas with such a crop."
Arapiles was released by Agriculture Victoria in 1993. Growers looking for seed barley or more information on varieties should callABB field officer Derek Payne on 053 811 668.