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“Incredible” new barley variety

This new higher-yielding, six-row barley 
variety is on the road to certification

A new six-row hulled spring feed and forage barley variety should soon be in farmers’ fields.

SR14501 — which will gain a trade name prior to commercialization — was developed by Alberta’s Field Crop Development Centre in response to producers’ requests for a barley with good lodging resistance, says barley breeder Joseph Nyachiro.

“It is a very well rounded variety. It has excellent grain yield and can be used for making silage or green feed, and it can be used for swath grazing,” says Nyachiro. “SR14501 can also produce more than 12,000 kg of dry matter per hectare.”

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The variety boasts forage yield eight per cent higher than Vivar and five per cent higher than AC Ranger, good seed and forage quality and resistance to major barley diseases such as net blotch, spot blotch and smut.

SR14501, which will be marketed by Alliance Seed, is currently in the seed select phase on the road to certification. It was planted on one operation in 2017 to multiply seed. More multiplication will follow in 2018, and if things go well, farmers should have access to commercial seed by 2020 or 2021.

View from the farm

By one farmer’s account, it’s worth the wait.

“It looks like an incredible variety,” says Darrell Holmstrom, the Killam, Alta. seed grower who planted SR14501 for Alliance Seed in 2017.

Holmstrom does custom farming for his neighbours and tests grain varieties for research groups. He also has cattle, and says few feed barley varieties combine great feed qualities with excellent agronomic qualities like this one.

SR14501 has a semi-smooth awn, which makes it superior to rough-awned varieties like AC Austenson for grazing, he says, and its potential yield is comparable to Austenson, which has done well for him in the past.

“We’ve tried other six-rows that have had reasonable yield but light bushel weight, or they’re weak in straw,” he says. “In our area the six-rows can get light a lot of years. They don’t have the bushel weight, they don’t fill up toward the top of the head. What’s interesting about this variety is that it filled every single row right to the very top.

“It’s exciting to see a barley that has excellent standability with that amount of straw without lodging,” he says.

The variety stood well even after a heavy snowfall that knocked a lot of Holmstrom’s wheat flat in the fall, with no neck breaking, he adds.

Producers’ satisfaction is the goal of the breeding program, says Nyachiro.

“We are always in communication with our clients, who are the farmers who will utilize the new barley varieties,” he says. “They tell us what they need, and they tell us standability is very important. Whether you are using a variety for grain or for forage, you need good standability.”

Nyachiro has just begun a three-year project with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Tim McAllister evaluating how different barley types react when processed for feed.

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Julienne Isaacs

Julienne Isaacs is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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