Feed barley: rising demand

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Feed barley breeding has not been forgotten in the push to produce better varieties.

Last year an estimated 1.8 million tonnes of barley was used for animal feed in Australia and this is expected to increase to nearly ~.5 million tonnes by the year 2000. This demand has led to major research being devoted to breeding improved feed barley varieties.

This is set to increase with the establishment of a new GRDC subprogram, 'Feed grains for end user industries', and the allocation by the SA Grains Industry Trust Fund of finance for feed barley breeding.

In a recent summary of barley breeding activities, plant breeders Reg Lance of the Waite Institute and Barbara Read of NSW Agriculture said two feed barley varieties were planned for release in 1995.

They said WB198 is a Skiff type and the first anther culture-derived cereal variety in Australia (see story below). It was bred for southern NSW. An O'Connor replacement being released in WA is 83S:514. Other new feed varieties with likely release dates are:

  • Cameo, for the northern region - it has high yield, small grain and is rootrot susceptible; likely release date is 1997;
  • 9104, for the southern region - has a large grain and high yields in Victoria and SA (1996);
  • WI 2868, for southern CCN areas - this is a CCN-resistant Galleon replacement (1996 or 1997);
  • Reinette, southern NSW - a winter variety for early sowing (1997).

Recent releases

Reviewing recent feed barley varieties, Drs Read and Lance said Kaputar was an early maturing, semi-dwarf type released for the northern region in 1993, while Brindabella was suited to acid soil areas.

Two hull-less barleys were released for food use. One was Morrell, which had not yet reached commercial production in WA because of seed production problems, while another, Namoi, was being commercially produced in NSW and SA.

Subprogram 1.3.04 Contact: Dr Reg Lance 08 3037453