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New barley varieties a season highlight

Mount Barker farmer, Andrew Slade with two new barley varieties he has grown commercially this season. On the left is Flinders, a high yielding export malting barley with superior malting characteristics and improved malt extract levels over Baudin.

High yields, easier harvest and a positive outlook from maltsters for Flinders barley are just some of the benefits that make this new variety an ideal replacement for Bass, according to Andrew Slade of Mount Barker.

After trialling and bulking-up Flinders last season, Mr Slade went on to plant 350 hectares on his farm this autumn.

He’s pleased with the decision and to-date it’s growing very well, despite a particularly wet growing season. It seems to handle the conditions well and last year yielded 5.5t/ha and achieved malt specifications despite a tough finish.

Mr Slade explained for his situation, Bass had not been consistently achieving malt grade due to colour issues. It also suffered head loss at harvest time.

“Flinders offers much better rust resistance and was really easy to harvest. Very noticeable last season was its shorter straw and reduced head loss compared to Bass,” he said.

Mr Slade believes Flinders will also be better able to cope with pressure from barley leaf rust and powdery mildew.

An important observation was that unusual levels of powdery mildew were observed in 2015 in Oxford barley, which was previously rated as resistant.

Samples collected from infected Oxford barley plants were tested at Curtin University’s Centre for Crop Disease Management (CCDM) and they confirmed there is a powdery mildew pathogen population with virulence for the MlSt resistance gene.

Therefore, Oxford and other varieties which possess MlSt gene, should now be treated as moderately susceptible to powdery mildew, particularly in the lower great southern.

Flinders is just part of a barley variety upgrade for Mr Slade.

In the lead up to 2016, Rosalind had exhibited an approximate five per cent yield improvement compared to Hindmarsh across WA Agzones.

The yield advantage in itself proved inviting, with Mr Slade planting 200 hectares of Rosalind this season. He bulked this feed variety up last season where it yielded a very pleasing 5.7t/ha.

Feed barley complements Mr Slade’s sheep and cattle production where he feeds out grain and sells excess production.

“Rosalind has shown impressive vigour, which really helps suppress weed growth,” he said.

“We plant our rows east-west to help manage weeds and Rosalind’s shading of weeds is outstanding, it just grows so fast.

“Rosalind’s mid-season maturity also works well in our seeding program, we can start with Flinders being a mid-long season and then move into Rosalind, helping us to spread our flowering window risk.

“We need feed grain for livestock, which is where the Rosalind fits in, while we are growing Flinders for its malt premiums,” he said.

Mr Slade said he is hoping to deliver Flinders to Cranbrook this year, but he has several options, including Albany port.