Spring barley yields have increased constantly over the past 10 years, according to Teagasc’s Tillage Advisor Ciaran Hickey.

Speaking at the Spring Tillage Seminar in Co. Wexford recently, he said barley growers should consider variety choice carefully before sowing a crop which may not suit their system.

Hickey also discussed the traits of malting barley varieties growers can sow this spring from the Department of Agriculture’s recommend lists.

Both KWS Irina and Propino are on the recommended list for 2016, he said, and barley growers are pretty used to growing these varieties at this stage.

However, Hickey said that Propino has a small chink in its armour, as the enzyme which keeps the skin on the grain is very weak.

Some malting growers may also have the opportunity to grow Sienna, he said, and it has an excellent kilogrammes per hectolitre (KPH) of 69.7, brilliant grain quality and very strong straw.

Hickey said that this variety is an non-glysodic nitrile variety, which means that it is suitable for distilling.

However, he said that it must be watched in high fertility soils as the Department’s trial in 2014 showed that it quite prone to lodging in very high nitrogen sites.

Some malting growers will also have the opportunity to grow the variety Planet, he said, but it only accounts for 8% of the malting seed available in Ireland.

It is on the Heineken list throughout Europe and it is regarded as a good malting variety. Its grain quality is a point behind Mickle, but lodging is a little bit of a question mark with it.

“But, it has the potential to be one of the main malting varieties over the next couple of years. Planet is probably one of the up-and-coming varieties,” he said.

Hickey also said that some malt growers can also grow Olympus, but its straw tends to be a little weak and it may be inclined to lodge.

He also said that there is very little change in the Department of Agriculture’s recommended spring feed barley variety list this year, with Mickle, KWS Irina and Propino accounting for over 61% of feed barley seed, he said.

Breakdown of spring feed barley seed in 2016
  • Mickle – 23%
  • KWS Irina – 21%
  • Propino – 17%
  • Sanette – 10%
  • Planet – 8%
  • SY Taberna – 7%