Better varieties = competitive edge

Barley breeder, Dr Reg Lance, (right) holds the grain while Waite Institute Barley Improvement Program Leader Dr Andrew Barr checks out the product.

Better malting qualities... better yields... better tolerance to soil and disease problems. These are some of the characteristics of a new wave of potential malting barley varieties now approaching the commercial evaluation stage in Australia.

In a report prepared for a recent Barley Technical Symposium, plant breeders Barbara Read, NSW Agriculture, Wagga Wagga, and Reg Lance, at the University of Adelaide's Waite Institute, listed eight lines likely to be commercially evaluated for malting.

The most imminent are: a Parwan replacement for Northern Victoria; the Canadian variety Harrington in WA; and a high diastase line, TG 121-1 for Queensland and WA. The possible commercial release date of these three is 1997.

Targeted for commercial release in 1998 are WI 2875, a high diastase and low β-glucan line for southern and western regions; a high yielder from NSW, WB 183, and WB 190R, which has good yields, extract and diastase.

Further down the track (1999) are a Franklin-derived line for WA with the maturity of Onslow and 9307, and a Victorian-bred line with a higher extract and diastase than Schooner.

The Read-Lance report highlighted that varieties are being tailored to suit specific regions.

The following table indicates the breeding objectives with the highest priority. (Common objectives such as grain yield and adaptation to a range of rainfall zones for main season sowing, straw strength and head retention are not shown.)

Regional objectivesNorthNSWVicSAWA
Domestic malting and brewing53544
Export malting5555
Feed grain2131
Hull-less11131
Maturity types for early sowing3 for C Qld34
Acid soil tolerance41
Boron tolerance343
Manganese deficiency tolerance32
Cereal Cyst Nematode44
Leaf Scald4343
Net blotch31114
Powdery mildew2133
Barley yellow dwarf virus2124
Leaf rust331
Stem rust, spot blotch, crown rot3
Common root rot32

The report says the low priority given to feed grain reflects that relatively fewer attributes are required for feed use. Many selection criteria for malting barley are shared with feed. This does not reflect on the market importance of feed barley, or the major research effort to produce feed barleys. (See page 8.)

Recent releases supported by growers through the GRDC included:

  • Arapiles was released in Victoria in 1993 and was gaining commercial acceptance as a useful variety in the Wimmera. Its yield was on a par with Schooner but grain diastase was better.
  • Tallon had provisional malting status in Queensland. It had good extract and diastase, was acceptable to the Brisbane breweries, but its agronomic performance in southern regions was poor.
  • Kaputar was released as a feed variety for the northern region while it underwent quality testing, but it had failed at the pilot brew stage.
  • Heritage Seeds had several lines in the process of acquiring plant breeders' rights. One variety, Galaxy, had recently been granted PBR and was being grown under contract.

Subprogram 1.3.04 Contact: Dr Reg Lance 08 303 7453

Region North