Winter barley growers are spoilt for choice this autumn, with the largest range of varieties on the AHDB Recommended List for some years.
Of the 24 varieties, there are a dozen two-rows, along with the largest range of hybrids ever recommended, with seven to choose from.
Just four years ago, there was only one hybrid, Volume, on the list.
For growers in the North, straw yield and earliness of maturity are as important as yield, while hybrids have proved popular in the East as farmers battle blackgrass.
But what about the South...
Winter barley choices have widened, with new feed two-rows and hybrids coming along, as well as the arrival of barley yellow dwarf virus tolerance.
Specialist six-row varieties Amistar and Rafaela will be helpful in managing the disease risk, believes David Bouch, Hutchinsons’ seeds manager, although both will only be available in limited quantities.
Of the new two-rows, Mr Bouch picks out Valerie as having the highest untreated yield and the very high bushel weight that always made Cassia so popular.
Other good choices are Gimlet, Orwell, Flynn and Surge.
In the hybrid category, he predicts that newcomer Kingsbarn will eat into some of the lead Bazooka has established.
Winter barley varieties
- Two-row: Gimlet, Flynn, Orwell and Valerie
- Hybrids: Baracooda and Kingsbarn
- Two-row: Cresswell, Orwell, Gimlet, and Valerie
- Hybrids: Sunningdale
- Hybrids: Bazooka and Kingsbarn
- Malting: Craft
- Hybrids Bazooka and Kingsbarn
- Two-row Gimlet, Flynn, Orwell, Surge and Valerie
- Specialist six-row Amistar and Rafaela offer barley yellow dwarf virus tolerance