What is in this article?:
- Outlook good for hull-less barley in upper Southeast
- Good stock for ethanol
- Latest variety release
- Several others on the way
• There has been considerable interest in hull-less barley varieties in recent years, leading Virginia Tech researchers to begin the long process of developing new barley varieties with acceptable agronomic traits adaptable for use in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions.
• Starch is the thing, when it comes to producing ethanol from barley. Though most hull-less varieties produce less yield, many produce more starch, giving them some advantage to the new Osage Bio Energy plant in Hopewell, which uses primarily barley for stock.
• Hull-less barley is very good stock for ethanol production, because the hull begins to separate from the plant as it nears harvest, providing a "cleaner" final grain product.
Latest variety release
Dan is the latest hull-less variety released by the Virginia Tech program. Last year Dan produced 10 bushels per acre more than Doyce and had a high test weight — highest in all tests among hull-less varieties, Vaughn says.
Dan hulless barley was named in recognition of Dan E. Brann, professor emeritus and former grain specialist at Virginia Tech. Dan is a short stature, full season, long awned, hulless barley. It has good winter hardiness, straw strength, and very high test weight and grain starch concentration.
In Virginia, the 3-year (2008-2010) average grain yield of Dan (65 bushels per acre) was similar to Eve, but 3 bushels per acre higher than Doyce. Dan had the highest average test weight (58 pounds per bushel) that was 5.2 pounds per bushel higher than Doyce (53.5 pounds per bushel) and 1.4 pounds per bushel higher than Eve (57.3 pounds per bushel).
Use of fungicides is critical in protecting grain yield and quality in varieties that are susceptible to plant diseases. When Doyce was released and in early production, leaf rust infection was basically 0-1 (based on a 0-9 scale; 0=highly resistant to 9=highly susceptible). In one test at the Eastern Virginia Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Warsaw, Virginia, Doyce was highly susceptible — a disease rating of 7-8.
When Doyce was released and in early production leaf rust was basically 0-1 for leaf rust, with 1 being virtually no damage and 9 being highly infected. In one test at the East Virginia Agriculture Research and Extension Center, one test with Doyce was highly infected — a disease rating of 7-8.
This is a good indication that there is a new isolate of the disease to which Doyce is susceptible. The same situation is occurring with Thoroughbred, the most popular barley variety was resistant to mildew. Now, it is highly susceptible to different races of mildew.
“Of these new varieties, even though they have resistance now, that doesn’t mean they will have it next year or in future years. New strains of these diseases can build up quickly, and if you now you have a variety with some susceptibility to disease, it is just a good management practice to use a fungicide,” Vaughn says.
“With mildew, even resistant lines have shown a seven percent reduction in yield. So, in most cases, the return on the cost of fungicide is going to be positive,” the Virginia Tech researcher adds.
Most of the potential new hull-less varieties being tested by Virginia Tech plant breeders include breeding lines from former Clemson University plant breeder Doyce Graham. The six original lines from South Carolina are the basis for the hull-less lines that have been developed and are being developed by Carl Griffey’s research team at Virginia Tech.
Other initial hulless barley lines including the USDA-ARS World collection were not well adapted to this region, they lacked desirable traits (low grain yield, test weight, straw strength) and were susceptible to many diseases.
“Without the breeding lines from Doyce Graham, we would have had to use the hull-less world collection, and they have not performed well at all in our tests. It would have been very difficult to get to where we are with new hull-less varieties without these South Carolina breeding lines,” Vaughn says.