The Idaho Barley Commission at its Oct. 25 board meeting in Rupert presented Gongshe Hu with the 2018 Idaho Barley Service Award. He is a barley breeder with the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Small Grains Germplasm Research facility in Aberdeen.

“Gongshe has contributed greatly to the advancement of the Idaho barley industry through the development of new cultivars of both malting barley and food barley varieties,” 2017-18 Commission Chairman Wes Hubbard said in a news release. “We appreciate his dedication, skill and collective work within the barley industry, to develop and release varieties to improve the industry and help growers throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain regions.”

Idaho is the number-one barley-producing state, growing more than 34 percent of the nation’s crop, Commission Administrator Laura Wilder said. Hu’s work is a factor.

“Gongshe’s barley germplasm research program, and the release of new cultivars which have become well established through major commercial production, have helped expand contract barley acreage in Idaho and provided opportunities for growers to be successful,” Wilder said.

She said Hu’s ARS program previously released two very successful food barley cultivars — Transit and Kardia — and in September received approval to release new hull-less food variety Goldenhart. The latter has been released, with a limited amount of foundation-class seed available this fall from the University of Idaho Foundation Seed office, to licensed producers with some additional experimental seed available for field testing.

The commission said Hu’s barley breeding program also has developed cultivars of great interest to the malting industry, including recent release Gemcraft.

Wilder said Hu “is extremely hardworking and passionate about developing varieties to help growers with the agronomic challenges they face, as well as varieties to meet the rising demand for high-fiber food barley for domestic and international markets and quality malt for the brewing industry.

“His contributions have been incredibly important to the overall success and growth of the Idaho barley industry, and we look forward to his future work to further benefit the industry,” Wilder said.

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