Better barley, better beer

Pure seed production of WABAR2104 at Kununurra on the Ord River, WA.

THREE new, better-yielding, better-brewing barley varieties are set for release in Western Australia. Designed to replace Stirling and Gairdner, they'll have to succeed in at least two out of their first three seasons before getting their classification as malting varieties.

Breeder Reg Lance expects the varieties to be particularly suitable to the Asian and South American markets where starch is used as an adjunct to brewing.

Two yet-to-be-named varieties (currently known as WABAR2104, and one of either WABAR2109 or 2110), for release in the medium- to low-rainfall areas, have demonstrated a 2--4 per cent yield increase over Stirling. They have greater malt extract, lower malt β-glucan and lower malt viscosity.

Chosen to replace Gairdner in the higher-rainfall, long-season areas, the variety still known as WABAR2080 also displays a 5 per cent yield advantage and has better extract and diastase levels. Its resistance to disease and kernel discolouration are expected to be at least as good, if not better.

Resistant to barley yellow dwarf virus

On the disease front, WABAR2080 carries the same gene for resistance to barley yellow dwarf virus as Franklin and Gairdner.

The new varieties were developed in a GRDC-supported project carried out by AGWEST and headed by Dr Lance. Research continues in another AGWEST project focusing on resistance to spot form net blotch and on integrating resistance to kernel discolouration.

Grower organisations, brewers and the GRDC will decide on the eventual release of the varieties but, after several years of trials in sites across the WA cereal belt, Dr Lance is confident that his team has produced commercially superior varieties.

Program 1.7.3 Contact: Dr Reg Lance 08 9368 3502 email rlance@agric.wa.gov.au