A NEW variety of barley will enter the arena in 2021 after leading Australian breeder InterGrain, officially launched its latest product last week.
Maximus CL had been nine years in the making and was developed as an alternative to the company's leading variety, Spartacus CL.
The new variety has been described as an exceptionally high yielding, early to mid-flowering, potential Malt, imidazolinone (IMI) tolerant barley.
InterGrain barley breeder David Moody said Spartacus had weaknesses which they wanted to address, with Maximus now showing improvements in terms of disease resistance, yield, receival standard quality and malting quality.
"The most notable thing that was wrong with Spartacus was spot form net blotch and we've really made a significant improvement in resistance to that," Mr Moody said.
"We've also made improvements for net form net blotch, for powdery mildew and scald, so there's four diseases which we've made improvements against."
Other developments include the yield, which has seen a four to five per cent improvement over Spartacus in terms of the National Variety Trials data for Western Australia and receival standards, with Maximus making malting specifications more often due to its grain plumpness.
"When we look at end user quality from the brewers' point of view, the most important thing is the amount of malt extract that they get," Mr Moody said.
"We've got a significant improvement in that area too, which means overall improvements in four key areas."
At the launch, Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan highlighted the value of having a grain producer which is focused on breeding varieties which grow well in WA.
"Last year, seven out of every 10 hectares sown to barley was an InterGain variety," Ms MacTiernan said.
"They excel at breeding high-yielding cereal varieties that meet market demands and improve the profitability of WA's legion of grain growers.
"Maximus CL embodies InterGrain's reputation for listening to the demands of the supply chain and creating a variety that satisfies discerning market requirements."
While the names and quirky cartoon characters attributed to InterGrain's varieties may seem unnecessary, they actually provide both a historical and a marketing purpose.
Mr Moody said the company wanted to establish a brand and in terms of the IMI tolerant varieties, they wanted a strong character.
"It was actually my wife Sue, who pointed out that gladiators' main diet back in the day was barley, so we decided to run with that theme," Mr Moody said.
"But we also came to a realisation that many growers couldn't identify which variety was bred by which breeding company, so we wanted to create something which was more visual for them to recognise.
"It's really worked and now we have growers asking us what the next cartoon character will be, so it has really helped with brand recognition."
Mr Moody said more growers trialled Maximus commercially for them last year, so there were significant tonnages which would go through malt houses this year.
"We've also had a lot of seed increases last year that will go further this year, so come spring, there should be plenty of seed available for growers to purchase for the 2021 season," Mr Moody said.
Maximus CL has been accepted into the Barley Australia Malt accreditation program, with earliest potential accreditation in March 2021.