Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association

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Improvement and Development of Barley for Use in Feed, Malt, and Food

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The Virginia Tech barley program is significantly diverse with breeding efforts focused on the development of superior, widely adapted, high yielding winter barley cultivars and a major focus on the incorporation of value-added traits geared towards the development of new markets.

Meanwhile, due to the continued decline in price and production of feed barley, and increasing interest from local and regional maltsters and brewers, the Virginia Tech breeding program has shifted emphasis of the barley program to rapid development of adapted winter malting barley varieties. This goal is being accomplished via development and testing of doubled haploid (DH) lines, and the formation of a collaborative Eastern Malt Barley Trial (EMBT) in which elite lines will be evaluated in neighboring states including North Carolina and Kentucky to facilitate collaborations and enhance variety development. As interest grows in this nursery the number of cooperators will likely expand to include additional nursery in other eastern states. In addition, our program is collaborating with barley breeders in twenty three states and also with breeders in Europe on winter malt barley research. It is anticipated that several potential winter malt barley releases will be grown and tested in pilot evaluation nurseries and breeder seed developed in 2018-2019. As such, our most important work will continue to be associated with malting barley varietal development. Development of improved variety is a cooperative effort between breeding programs and the end users (malting and brewing industry). End-users dictate goals of the breeding program. Contributions are through the direct testing of germplasm, research to help improve our understanding of the genetics of quality, and screening of FHB/DON resistance lines.

In the Virginia State Barley Trial, barley tests were planted in seven-inch rows at Blackstone, Orange, Holland, and Painter.  They were planted in six-inch rows at Warsaw and Blacksburg.  The no-till site at Holland was planted at 48 seeds per square foot.  All other locations were planted at 44 seeds per square foot.

In the 2018 harvest year, the overall grain yield of Thoroughbred was 86 bushels per acre with an average test weight of 43.2 pounds per bushel compared to the mean yield of 87 bushels per acre and a test weight of 45.4 pounds per bushel for the mean of all cultivars tested. Average grain yield of Secretariat (90 bushels per acre) was 2 bushels per acre higher than Atlantic (88 bushels per acre), 4 bushels per acre higher than Thoroughbred, 5 bushels per acre higher than Price, 17 bushels per acre higher than Nomini and 18 bushels per acre higher than Callao. However, the experimental line VA16B-217 (LA) had the highest average overall grain yield (100 bushel per acre) that was 10 bushel per acre higher than Secretariat, 14 bushel per acre more than Thoroughbred and 13 bushel per acre higher than the overall test mean. In addition, two other experimental lines (VA16B-236 LA and VA16B-263 LA) ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively in average grain yield (98 bushels per acre) that were 8 bushels per acre higher than that of Secretariat and 12 bushels per acre higher than Thoroughbred.

Malt barley tests were planted in seven-inch rows at Blackstone and in six-inch rows at Warsaw and Blacksburg; at 44 seeds per square foot.

Average grain yield of Virginia malt experimental line VA16M-84 (2R) (92 Bu/ac) was similar to Flavia, 1 bushel per acre less than Calypso (93 Bu/ac), 2 bushel per acre higher than Violetta (90 Bu/ac) and significantly higher than Thoroughbred (79 Bu/ac). VA16M-84 also had test weight (49.4 Lb/bu) that was 7 pounds heavier than Calypso, Flavia and Thoroughbred (42.9, 42.9 and 42.0 Lb/bu) respectively in test weight, 5 pounds more than Violetta (44.7 Lb/bu) and 4 pounds heavier than overall test average (45.7 Lb/bu). Two other Virginia malt barley DH lines VA16M-14DH12-85 and VA16M-14DH12-69 had average grain yield 91 and 90 Bu/ac respectively that were similar to Violetta, 2 to 3 bushels per acre lower than Calypso and Flavia, and significantly higher than Thoroughbred. These new malt barley results are encouraging and indicate that significant progress is being made by the breeding program in developing barley cultivars with high yield and improved disease resistance.

Hulless barley tests were planted in seven-inch rows at Blackstone, Orange, Holland, and Painter.  They were planted in six-inch rows at Warsaw and Blacksburg.  The no-till site at Holland was planted at 66 seeds per square foot.  All other locations were planted at 60 seeds per square foot.

Average grain yield for Doyce hulless barley in Virginia was 68 bushels per acre with test weight of 47.8 pounds per bushel.  Average grain yield of Eve was 73 bushels per acre with test weight of 54.2 pounds per bushel. Average grain yield of Amaze 10 was 72 bushels per acre with a test weight of 52.5 pounds per bushel. Dan had the highest average grain yield (74 bushels per acre) among released cultivars (Eve, Amaze 10 and Doyce). It produced a test weight of 53.9 pounds/bushel that was similar to Eve (54.2 pounds/bushel) and 6.1 pounds per bushel higher than Doyce (47.8 pounds/bushel).  The 2-row experimental line VA16H-27 (2R) had the highest overall average grain yield (85 bushels per acre) that was 11 bushels per acre higher than that of Dan, 12 bushels per acre higher than Eve (73 bushels per acre), 13 bushels per acre higher than Amaze 10 (72 bushels/acre), 17 bushels per acre higher than Doyce, and 9 bushels per acre more than the test average.

Wynse S. Brooks, Mark E. Vaughn, Nicholas Meier, Joshua Fitzgerald, and Carl A. Griffey

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University