Breed­ing bet­ter bar­ley

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - FARM NEWS -

Al­berta Agri­cul­ture

Al­berta is the largest bar­ley pro­ducer in Canada. Bar­ley makes up nearly two-thirds of the breed­ing ef­forts at Al­berta Agri­cul­ture and Forestry’s Field Crop De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre (FCDC) in La­combe.

“Feed and for­age are the core of our work,” ex­plains Flavio Capet­tini, head of re­search at the FCDC.

“Va­ri­eties are the foun­da­tion of agri­cul­ture. With­out im­proved va­ri­eties, there is no ge­netic progress to con­trib­ute to in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and food se­cu­rity. Farm­ers and breed­ers have been con­tin­u­ously breed­ing bar­ley for more than 10,000 years. Breed­ing is even more im­por­tant now that we have a steadily in­creas­ing world pop­u­la­tion, cli­matic pres­sures and in­ter­na­tional mar­ket com­pe­ti­tion.”

This year has been pro­duc­tive for the cen­tre. In March, 4 bar­ley va­ri­eties were ap­proved for reg­is­tra­tion. From those, 2 new bar­ley va­ri­eties are cur­rently in the li­cens­ing process for com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

The FCDC is re­leas­ing two-row bar­ley va­ri­eties with yields that ex­ceed mar­ket-dom­i­nant va­ri­eties and have sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved lodg­ing re­sis­tance in most of them.

Six-row bar­ley va­ri­eties that have im­proved Ni­tro­gen Use Ef­fi­ciency (NUE) are also be­ing re­leased.

“This can mean lower in­put costs, more sta­ble yield and less ni­tro­gen lost to the en­vi­ron­ment,” says Yadeta Ka­beta, FCDC re­search sci­en­tist.

The cen­tre has changed its for­age bar­ley breed­ing strat­egy to bring va­ri­eties that bet­ter meet the needs of the for­age in­dus­try to mar­ket.

“This pro­gram is fo­cus­ing on yield, qual­ity and smooth awns, es­pe­cially in two-row bar­ley,” says Capet­tini. “The ma­jor­ity of avail­able va­ri­eties have rough awns, which can ir­ri­tate cat­tle’s mouths. Smooth or hooded awns can avoid that neg­a­tive ef­fect.”

“Also,” Capet­tini adds, “the malt­ing va­ri­eties are gain­ing mar­ket share and are rec­og­nized as hav­ing favourable char­ac­ter­is­tics pre­ferred by the grow­ing craft malt­ing and brew­ing in­dus­try.”

The team at the cen­tre con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate, cre­ate and re­search a way to breed dif­fer­ent types of Al­berta grown malt­ing bar­ley to give beer dif­fer­ent flavours. And, it’s not just brew­eries that rely on these malt­ing bar­ley va­ri­eties.

“Farm­ers who grow malt­ing bar­ley va­ri­eties every year aim to make the qual­ity needed for malt­ing,” ex­plains Capet­tini. “But, if the crop does not fit those char­ac­ter­is­tics they are used for feed. Around 50% of the bar­ley acres in Al­berta are planted with malt­ing va­ri­eties although only 20 to 30% of the crops that fit the specificat­ions will be used as malt.”

The FCDC has been de­vel­op­ing en­hanced ce­real va­ri­eties for feed, malt, food, and bio-in­dus­trial uses since 1973. Along with bar­ley, re­searchers work with trit­i­cale.

Con­tact

For­mor­e­in­for­ma­tion­about­the­bar­ley­breed­ing pro­gra­mat theFCDC,con­nectwith­FlavioCape­t­tini: Hours:8:15amto4:30pm(openMon­day­toFri­day,closed statu­to­ry­hol­i­days) Phone:780-782-8025 Toll­free:310-0000be­fore the­p­ho­nenum­ber(in­Al­berta) Email:flavio.capet­tini@gov.ab.ca

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