By MATTHEW WEAVER
Washington barley growers will have another new variety to consider next spring.
Muir is a spring, two-row feed barley developed by Washington State University barley breeder Kevin Murphy in Pullman, Wash.
Muir performs well in lower rainfall regions, complementing Lyon, another new barley release slated for higher rainfall zones.
Muir is "the best disease resistant barley variety out there we know of," Murphy said, noting it is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, stripe rust and powdery mildew, and a top yielder in several organic trials.
It is named for Carl Muir, former lead technician in WSU's barley program for 40 years and a graduate student under celebrated WSU and USDA Agricultural Research Service wheat breeder Orville Vogel.
Even after he retired Muir would help former WSU winter wheat breeder Stephen Jones, now director at WSU's research center in Mount Vernon, Wash., Murphy said. Murphy was a graduate student in Jones' program.
About 90 percent of the barley grown in Washington is feed barley, Murphy said.
The last variety released and fully approved by WSU's variety release committee was Bob in 2002. Bob is still a good variety, Murphy said, but yield is the biggest priority, and the new releases Muir and Lyon have higher yields than Bob.
Foundation seed for Muir will be available in the spring of 2014.
Murphy is also working to release an herbicide-resistant feed barley, a hulless variety that could be used for either feed or food and a malting variety.