The American Malting Barley Association has added two new options to its list of recommended malting barley varieties for the 2014 growing season.
The additions are two-row variety ABI Voyager and six-row variety Innovation, both developed by Busch Agricultural Resources from crosses made at the company’s facilities in Fort Collins, Colo.
According to an association press release, ABI Voyager has high yields in the intermountain region. Its improved resistance to the disease spot blotch may allow it to be grown farther east than most North American two-rows.
Innovation is broadly adapted and exhibits good kernel plumpness in the upper Midwest and irrigated regions of western North Dakota and eastern Montana.
The new varieties are high-yielding and suit the needs of Anheuser-Busch and other brewers, said Scott Heisel, association vice president and technical director.
No varieties have been dropped from the previous year.
Recommended two-rowed varieties are ABI Voyager, AC Metcalfe, CD Copeland, CDC Meredith, Charles, Conlon, Conrad, Expedition, Harrington, Hockett, Merit, Merit 57, Moravian 69, Pinnacle, Scarlett and Wintmalt. Recommended six-rowed varieties are Celebration, Innovation, Lacey, Legacy, Quest, Robust, Stellar-ND and Tradition.
Most malting barley acres are contracted. Heisel said that the amount of malting barley used each year by the industry has remained fairly consistent. In the last decade, U.S. brewers have used 120 million bushels annually, he said.
Malting barley varieties primarily are spring varieties. Adoption of more winter varieties will take time, Heisel said. The association continues to fund research efforts to improve winter hardiness.
Heisel said barley breeders are focused on maintaining quality and improving agronomics, with better disease resistance, improved size for combining or improved maturity.
Craft brewers and larger brewing companies have begun increasing their all-malt products, he said.
“They want a little bit lower protein levels in their barley,” he said.
Like other commodities, interest in local production is increasing. Heisel said smaller craft malting companies are on the rise, aiming to grow and malt locally to service the brewing industry, particularly in areas outside traditional growing regions.
Heisel recommends farmers have an outlet for their barley. Those growing malting barley without a contract should consult their local grain elevator to ensure there’s a market for the variety, he said.
AMBA is a nonprofit trade association of U.S. malting, brewing and distilling companies.