New varieties and N boost lift barley to new high
Westminster is set to replace Gairdner as the dominant barley variety grown in Tasmania with the state’s two major breweries, Cascade Brewery and Boag’s Brewery, endorsing it for malting last year.
For most of the state’s growers, acceptability to the breweries is an essential consideration in deciding which variety they grow.
Gairdner was released in 1998 and has long been the only malting variety these breweries would accept, although Barley Australia has given malting status to other varieties suited to Tasmania. Westminster was developed from a French variety, commercialised in Australia by GrainSearch and released in 2011.
However, for Deloraine grower Rob Terry it is not the malting potential of Westminster that interests him, but the potential yields and improved disease resistance.
He did not grow any Westminster himself in 2013, but was impressed by a neighbour’s crop that yielded more than nine tonnes per hectare.
The focus of Rob’s barley production is feed, and he has trialled several different varieties in recent years, looking for higher yields.
He also plants his barley as part of a spring rather than a winter cropping program. While most growers sow in April, he sows in October.
He says the long-term average of full-season (April-planted) barley yields on his property is 4.5t/ha, while the state-wide average from 2007 to 2012 was 3.05t/ha.
But even with the shorter growing season he has been trialling, his most recent yields have far outperformed this.
Contributing to the improvement is a new nitrogen regime, in line with the results of GRDC-supported trials by Southern Farming Systems in Tasmania.
In the past two years, he has increased nitrogen applications from 50 kilograms/ha to 250kg/ha, also applying 100kg of diammonium phosphate at sowing.
In 2012, Rob planted Henley and Gairdner, harvesting in February 2013.
The Henley yielded 8t/ha and the Gairdner 7t/ha. In 2013, he planted Henley and Gairdner, harvesting in early February 2014.
A small area sown to a now-discontinued heritage variety yielded 9t/ha.
“The increased yields more than pay for the cost of the additional fertiliser,” Rob says.
He sells some of the barley to local grower group Tasmanian Agricultural Producers.
Rob keeps the remainder on-farm as feed for the trade lambs he grows out on agistment for Landmark.