Chebec runs into rough passage

Growers are probably aware by now that the new CCN-resistant variety Chebec has been rejected as malting quality following four years of industry tests.

The industry standard states that any new variety must be superior to the existing malting variety, in this case Schooner.

Chebec has been found to have malting qualities similar to Schooner except for diastatic power. This is a measure of the enzymes that convert starch into sugar. The sugar is fermented by yeast into alcohol.

Diastatic power in malt is related to the level of protein. The Australian Barley Board decided to receive Chebec as feed grade following a study that was unable to find a practical indicator for the relationship between protein levels and diastatic power in order to set a minimum protein receival specification for Chebec.

Nevertheless, with 70,000 hectares of Chebec to harvest in 1993-94 in South Australia alone, grower protests were loud. The Board in SA has since agreed to segregate the highest quality Chebec and try to sell it as malting grade. The rest of the industry is now watching the SA situation.

Growers should be aware, however, that with a bumper barley crop this year, Australia has more malting barley than ever before going into a tight export market. Insiders say that hopes for Chebee as malting grade under these circumstances are not high.