Promising spring barley varieties in the pipeline
A range of established and upcoming spring barley varieties from RAGT will be on show in a new demonstration at the company’s Ickleton site this summer.
Brewing and distilling are key markets for RAGT Seeds UK-led spring barley breeding operation. Distilling is a particularly large market in the UK so dual-purpose varieties are important, but there is also a big market for brewing-only types here and in the rest of Europe.
Several promising new varieties are in the pipeline, including RGT Starlight, a Recommended List candidate. This is a high yielding, potential malting variety suitable for brewing, with similar quality to RGT Planet and Laureate.
RGT Starlight has good specific weight (67kg/hl). Official micromalt tests show it has a higher hot water extract and a higher soluble nitrogen ration than RGT Planet, indicating an even breakdown of starch and proteins into sugars.
This relatively short variety has RGT Planet-like maturity and has performed well in official trials, both in terms of yield and disease resistance. It has better resistance to brackling.
Four more varieties, three for brewing and one dual purpose, have stood out in RAGT trials across the UK and are now their second year of National List trials (NL2).
One in particular has produced very high yields of good quality grain and looks very well suited to the UK brewing market.
Another produces almost as much grain but has a particularly good hot water extract figure, suggesting a very good brewing yield.
Turning to more familiar varieties, RGT Planet is now in its eighth year on the Recommended List, having been promoted in 2015.
Its consistent performance across widely differing soil types and climates has made it a hit with growers, maltsters and brewers worldwide and RAGT Seeds' biggest spring barley success.
This and its strong agronomics mean RGT Planet remains the most popular spring barley in the world and one of the most widely grown in the UK.
RGT Asteroid is the nearest the team has got to breeding a variety that suits all three UK markets – brewing, malt distilling and grain distilling.
It was promoted to the RL in 2018 and remains of interest for grain distilling, due to its high diastatic power and the fact it outyields the only fully approved variety on the RL for this market, by seven points on the 2020/21 RL.