FARMERS in low to medium rainfall zones will have another string to their bow in terms of malt barley options this year, with Barley Australia announcing the much-hyped LaTrobe variety is now malt-accredited.
LaTrobe has been anointed as the successor to the popular Hindmarsh line as a high yielding barley cultivar, and now has the advantage over Hindmarsh that it can be classified as malt.
Hindmarsh is categorised as a food quality barley, meaning it receives a premium over feed barley, but not as much as a full blown malt line.
In National Variety Trial (NVT) testing, LaTrobe has performed very well. There were limited commercial plantings last year for seed bulk-up and this year it is expected to have malt segregations with major bulk handlers such as GrainCorp.
The seed will be available through local seed distributors for the 2015 season.
There is already significant interest in growing the variety, with many growers singling the variety out as one to watch at trial field days.
Best suited to export beer
The variety was developed by InterGrain and Syngenta and is now the highest yielding, early maturing malting variety in low to medium rainfall zones, according to official data.
To get malting accreditation, the variety was tested by Barley Australia in association with the Malting and Brewing Industry barley technical committee.
It will be best suited to export beer brewing markets.
Barley breeder with InterGrain David Moody said the variety had a nice mix of agronomic and end use traits.
“La Trobe will provide an excellent option for growers in the lower to medium rainfall districts of Australia seeking to grow a malting-accredited variety, but it will also enhance Australia’s reputation as a supplier of both excellent quality malting barley and malt,” he said.
On the end use front, La Trobe has a high malt extract, high diastase and high fermentability.
Diastase enzymes are critical in breaking starch down into maltose.
Physically, it has good grain size and a high excellent test weight.
And there will also be scope for growers producing the variety to branch out into new market opportunities.
Mr Moody said LaTrobe’s grain characteristics are also well suited to the shochu market in Japan.
Shochu is an alcoholic beverage similar to the popular saké that can be brewed from a number of products including barley.
Long path to market
The Barley Australia accreditation represents the end of a long path to market for the variety.
Work began on breeding LaTrobe in 2006 by the Biosciences Research Division of the Victorian State Department of Economic Development, in association with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Commercial rights to the variety were then handed over to InterGrain in 2010, while Syngenta entered a commercial breeding collaboration with InterGrain in 2012.
Agronomically, Mr Moody said the variety has a sound package of disease resistance, straw strength and sprouting tolerance.
Craig Thompson, head of cereals with Syngenta, was thrilled with the announcement, which has come after an extensive testing process.
“Growers of LaTrobe will be well placed to receive malting premiums in coming seasons now the variety has received accreditation,” Mr Thompson said.