Non GN barley varieties are the way forward to meet ever increasing distilling demand says leading plant breeders Limagrain UK.
Speaking at a recent meeting with the seed trade, Lee Robinson, sales and marketing director for Limagrain underlined the importance of supplying non-glycosidic nitrile (GN) varieties to the market that could meet the needs of both distilling and brewing.
“The malting barley market is effectively split in two, distilling and brewing. The distilling and real ale markets are showing good growth, but brewing is in decline across Europe. Growers have reacted to this and are looking for high yielding and agronomically sound non-GN varieties which also offer a security in marketing options.”
“At Limagrain this has been a key focus in the barley breeding programme– we are looking to bring varieties to the market that can be used in distilling and ideally with domestic brewing and export.”
Grain suitable for distilling should be below 1.65% nitrogen, and it is non-GN varieties that can offer this, adds Mark Glew, senior barley breeder at Limagrain.
Non-GN varieties include the version of a gene that makes them non-producers of the compound glycosidic nitrile, explained Mr Glew. “It’s a tiny piece of DNA, but it makes those particular varieties suitable,” he notes. “There are only a few of them, but they’re the ones that are tested and supported by the distillers.”
Concerto and Odyssey are the only non-GN varieties on the RL with full approval for brewing and distilling.
“Back in 2009, Concerto set a new benchmark for distilling varieties for quality and yield, this was followed by Odyssey in 2012. Odyssey demonstrated a step up in yield of 7% over Concerto which was enough of a difference to make growers want to try it not just in the UK but across Europe where its popularity as a dual variety is increasing.”
Mr Glew notes that since the launch of Odyssey however there has been a lull in the market as no new varieties have been recommended. However this looks set to change with the introduction of four non-GN candidates Deveron, Sienna, Octavia and Olympus currently in recommended list trials.
“Deveron offers 107% yield, above that of Propino and is short strawed, with very good disease resistance. Deveron has potential for distilling.”
“Sienna is a dual use variety with potential for brewing and distilling, with similar yields to Propino. Sienna has very good disease resistance and specific weight. “
“Specific weight is becoming an increasingly important characteristic for malting so this is a valuable characteristic for a dual purpose variety. Many varieties currently on the RL have low specific weight.”
“Octavia, another high yielding no GN variety also has potential for distilling and brewing and is already in trials in France having performed well to date. This variety also offers very good disease resistance.”
“The last of the four varieties, Olympus is a potential Belgravia replacement, offering high yields and with potential for malt distilling and grain distilling.”
“When we launched Odyssey, Overture and Chronicle we left it to the market to decide where the varieties would fit and which would survive, and the market very clearly chose Odyssey. We plan to do the same with these new varieties should they all be recommended.”
“This season’s results will clearly show up difference in varieties, having been really tested by disease, so it will be interesting to see how they perform.”
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Pictured is Mark Glew, barley breeder for Limagrain who believes that non GN spring barley varieties provide flexibility of marketing options