“There are several popular varieties which take a proportion of the market year-on-year, but it’s always interesting to see how new additions to the list perform,” says Jonathan Baxendale, Wynnstay combinable crop manager.

He says there are a number of 2-row additions that should not be overlooked, with Valerie and LG Flynn two particularly exciting propositions for growers.

“Valerie has the highest 2-row untreated yield on the list, with a rating of 87 and provides a good overall agronomic package, particularly with its rating of 9 for brown rust. It’s also very stiff-strawed, with a score of 8, similar to KWS Orwell – which currently holds around 30 percent of the market.

“A stand out point for Valerie is its specific weight of 70.2. KWS Cassia, the third most popular variety in the UK, has the highest score of 71. With Valerie able to compete in terms of the whole package offering, as well as yielding 4% higher than KWS Cassia, it’ll be interesting to see its share in the market over the next few years.”

He adds LG Flynn should also be a strong consideration. “With a high yielding score for both the East and West for the 2-rows, and a good specific weight of 69.8, it’s an extremely competitive new addition to the list.”

Another new contender is KWS Gimlet, which David Huish, Wynnstay Woodheads seed sales manager says is going to be popular for Eastern growers.

“This 2-row feed barley is the highest-yielding in the East, at 106%, which is drawing interest,” says Mr Huish.

“KWS Gimlet’s disease package is also appealing for growers. Its mildew rating of 6 is significantly better than its predecessor KWS Orwell which only had a rating of 3, and its specific weight is a slight step up on KWS Orwell too.”

Commenting on the 2-row malting barleys on offer, Mr Huish says the majority of options are consistent in yield, agronomic package and overall performance. Therefore, the differentiating factor is the end market.

“Syngenta’s Craft is favoured by contractors, with little lodging and overall good characteristics,” he says.

“Another one to watch from Syngenta in the upcoming season is Electrum. It’s currently being trialled, so it will be interesting to see how it performs.”

He adds for those looking for a 6-row hybrid, Bazooka, which became available in 2016, continues to be popular.

“Syngenta has also launched a new 6-row hybrid, SY Kingsbarn, which will appeal to Eastern growers. It’s the highest yielding 6-row on the list, with an 89 for untreated yield, has a fantastic lodging score of 8 and is predicted to have a very good specific weight, so is certainly one to watch.”

Although there are several exciting new additions, Mr Baxendale says some of the old favourites will continue to dominate the overall winter barley market.

“For a number of years, Surge has taken one of the top spots, and its popularity hasn’t altered in 2019. It’s a very farmer friendly variety, with a high score of 86% for untreated yield and an overall solid disease package. It also provides good grain quality and specific weight year-on-year,” he says.

With a share of around a third of the 2-row winter barley grown in the UK, he predicts KWS Orwell will again be a popular choice this autumn.

“It’s a consistent performer across all regions, providing the stiffest 2-row score with its lodging percentage, coupled with a good combination of wet weather disease resistance. Its yield which is only 1% off the highest yielder also helps,” he adds.