AFBI winter barley variety harvest results point the way for 2014 planting

Date published: 02 October 2014

Area of Expertise:

Results of the latest winter barley variety trials at the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), funded by DARD and the HGCA, have just been released.

Use of AFBI grass varieties continues to increase annually

The average treated yield of all varieties across all three sites (Limavady, Hillsborough and Downpatrick) in 2014 was 9.3 t per ha, 0.5 t per ha higher than 2013, with the untreated yields averaging 7.0 t per ha, 0.7 t per ha higher than in 2013.  Limavady was the highest yielding site with an average treated yield of 10.7 t per ha compared to 9.0 and 8.5 t per ha for Hillsborough and Downpatrick, respectively.  Disease levels in the untreated trials were variable - the highest were recorded at Downpatrick where Rhynchosporium, Ramularia and mildew reached significant levels of infection in susceptible varieties.  At Limavady levels of disease were relatively low with moderate levels at Hillsborough.

Two-row varieties

KWS Glacier was the highest-yielding 2 row variety in 2014.  It yielded 11.1 t per ha at Limavady in treated plots (receiving both fungicides and PGR) with an average of 9.8 t per ha (104%) across all 3 sites.  KWS Cassia yielded reasonably well in 2014, 3% less than KWS Glacier.  KWS Cassia’s five-year average remains only 1% less than that of KWS Glacier.  In terms of grain quality, KWS Cassia is hard to beat having higher specific weight and larger grain than KWS Glacier.  KWS Tower gave very disappointing yields this year – only 97% of treated controls in treated plots, i.e. 7% lower than KWS Glacier this year, compared to being only 3% lower in 2013.  The five-year average yields for KWS Glacier and KWS Tower are 105 and 102%, respectively.

California and Florentine also had disappointing yields in 2014, achieving 96 and 95% respectively, pulling their five-year treated averages down to 102%. Their untreated yields remained relatively high at 80%, both varieties having very good disease resistance profiles.

Only one 2-row variety is eligible for inclusion on the 2015 Recommended List, Cavalier, but it does not look promising with a five-year treated average yield of 97%.  The new candidate KWS Infinity is waiting in the wings, having completed one year in trials in Northern Ireland. It gave a very respectable performance of 104% of treated controls in 2014, equalling the yield of KWS Glacier.  This variety will remain in trial for further testing and will be eligible for provisional recommendation in 2016.

Six-row varieties

Volume, the only 6-row hybrid on the NI Recommended List, was the highest yielding winter barley variety in 2014.  It has excellent disease resistance and maintains green leaf area longer than more disease prone varieties.   Its five-year average is 106%, 1% higher than KWS Glacier.  The 6-row variety KWS Meridian gave very good yields again in 2014 and is one of the most consistent varieties in trial.  It has excellent disease resistance, very good untreated yields and is early to ripen.  However, like many 6-row varieties, its grain quality is poorer than the 2-row varieties with low specific weight and small grain.

Volume also has small grain, although its specific weight is better than most 6-row varieties.  Daxor is a new candidate 6-row variety that has performed well on a UK-wide basis, but in Northern Ireland it achieved only 97% of treated controls in 2014.

All results on yield and other characteristics from 2014 add to our knowledge of varieties but when selecting varieties to grow, the five-year average values are more appropriate than results from one year as they reflect varietal performance over several seasons.  These data from trials in 2014 will be added into the five-year matrices and considered when revising the DARD Recommended List for 2015. More immediately, further information on the harvest results from AFBI variety trials can be obtained from AFBI Crossnacreevy (phone no: 028-90548000).

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DARD and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

AFBI's Vision is “Scientific excellence in Northern Ireland …  serving the world”.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office.

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