THEY may be named after creatures of ancient mythology, but the two new barley varieties from Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) are anything but primitive.
Cyclops and Minotaur are the result of AGT's barley breeding program which was launched in 2014 and offer growers greater yields and improved reliability.
Throughout its field evaluation, Cyclops revealed itself to be the highest yielding barley variety in Western Australia, while Minotaur demonstrated an average six per cent yield advantage over popular RGT Planet.
AGT barley breeder Paul Telfer said they viewed Cyclops as an all-rounder, while Minotaur had proven an ideal substitute for RGT Planet in medium to high rainfall zones.
"Cyclops performed exceptionally well in the medium rainfall, medium yield potential environments, where it has set a new yield benchmark for the majority of Australia and it also has a physical grain quality and disease resistance package that compares well with most other varieties on the market," Mr Telfer said.
"Minotaur on the other hand, because it has been bred for Australian conditions, is better able to deal with our seasonal variability than European varieties, so it combines the top-end yield potential of European barley, like RGT Planet, with lower risk and widely adapted Australian genetics.
"In trials, Minotaur significantly out-yielded Planet in all but the most favourable conditions - including drier seasons with a long and favourable finish, short seasons with terminal drought stress and average seasons with moderate yield potential."
Cyclops has a quick-mid maturity, reaching awn peep slightly later than Spartacus CL, while its short plant type is similar to La Trobe, Spartacus CL and Rosalind resulting in reduced susceptibility to lodging compared with taller barley varieties.
"It has head loss similar to La Trobe or Spartacus CL, meaning that it is less vulnerable to yield loss during windy conditions around harvest compared with some other varieties," Mr Telfer said.
"It also has an improved spot-form net blotch rating over Rosalind, Spartacus CL and RGT Planet and a strong provisional scald rating for those areas affected by this disease.
"National Variety Trials (NVT) grain quality data suggests that Cyclops offers a good physical grain quality package, producing grain with better test weight and grain size than RGT Planet and comparable to Rosalind."
Long-term AGT and NVT data also shows that Cyclops has a yield leap over Spartacus CL and RGT Planet in most WA environments.
Over four years of testing in AGT trials Cyclops showed exceptional yield stability, consistently producing high yields across a range of conditions from high yield potential to drier, more stressed conditions.
"NVT data also underlines the yield versatility that Cyclops offers, consistently ranking as one of the highest yielding varieties across WA," Mr Telfer said.
"Three years of head-to-head AGT observations across WA showed that Cyclops out-yielded Spartacus CL in 13 out of 17 trials (7pc yield) and beat Rosalind in 14 out of 17 trials (2pc yield)."
Minotaur provides the option of a mid-slow maturity that is slightly slower than RGT Planet, allowing growers to better manage large sowing programs or a late season break.
The variety grows to a relatively compact plant type with moderate lodging resistance and it also has better resistance to net form and spot form net blotch in some environments, along with lower scald and leaf rust resistance.
"Minotaur has delivered yields that are more stable across a wider range of seasonal conditions and regions compared to RGT Planet," Mr Telfer said.
"It out-yielded RGT Planet in most environments, except in very high yielding, softer conditions, with three years of head-to-head AGT observations across WA showing that Minotaur out-yielded RGT Planet in 17 out of 17 trials (6pc yield)."
Both Cyclops and Minotaur have been accepted into the Barley Australia malt accreditation program, with stage 1 malt evaluation having commenced this year, but for now the varieties will be deliverable as feed grade.
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