b'BARLEY BREEDING UPDATECHECKING IN ON THE LATEST CHALLENGES, GOALS AND INNOVATIONS BEING USED BY MAJOR BREEDERS OF THIS DIVERSE CROP.BY: TREENA HEINM any around the world may not know that barley Barley is mainly used today for food products, alcoholic bever-because it can be used in several important ways andage production and in animal feed. With these varied applications, can be grown in diverse conditionsis the worldsits therefore no surprise that breeding companies have a wide fourth largest grain crop. It is only surpassed by maize, rice andrange of focuses. For example, Syngentas spring barley breeding wheat. Barley also has a long history of cultivation. Accordingprogramme is centred currently on malting, distilling and brewing, to Oxford Academic, the crop was domesticated about 8000and its winter barley programme is focused on hybrid feed and B.C. Wild ancestors of the plant are still found in grasslands andearly stage development of hybrid malting types. Syngenta was woodlands throughout the Fertile Crescent area of Western Asiathe first company globally, in 2003, to hybridize winter barley and and northeast Africa.commercialise at scale across Europe, Hiles explains. This devel-Barley is a robust plant that can be grown in many types ofopment, he says, involving six row varieties has had a significant environments, including marginal areas and higher altitudes.impact on lifting yields and increasing yield stability. However, at this point in time, spring barley is a much moreInitially, Syngentas winter barley breeding was focused global crop than winter barley, explains Alexander Strube,on high quality two row varieties suitable for United Kingdom Managing Director at Ackermann Saatzucht. It can essentiallybeer brewing and then hybrid six rows for yield, Hiles reports. be grown anywhere in the world, from Nepalese highlands andFuture developments are likely to see hybrid winter malting near-arctic Iceland to the Egyptian desert. As such, we test ourbarleys marketed to continental European growers and brewers, germplasm in basically every barley growing region of the world,driven by beer brands increasingly focusing on sustainably and from Siberia to Africa to Argentina. Spring barley breeding alsoenvironmentally-driven supply chains. In Northern Germany, is significantly faster than for the winter form, with shorter veg- for example, he says irrigation is commonly used for spring etation cycles that permit the use of counter-season nurseriesbarley, which is creating water shortages and additional testing mainly in Chile and New Zealand.of winter barley to help save water is taking place.In addition, Rasmus Hjortshj notes one thing that makesMajor barley markets KWS breeds for include brewing, spring barley lines easier to breed, its habit to be highly self-polli- distilling and feed plus smaller ones like food ingredients and nating that allows two lines to be grown almost next to each otherpearling, says Sandra Dunckel, Deputy Head of Breeding Barley. without crosspollination being an issue. Winter barleys, explainsThis is achieved through a combination of spring and winter the Winter Barley Breeder at Sejet Plant Breeding, require longerbarley (6 row and 2 row).distances, more isolation and rouging for purity to be main- The breeding at Ackermann Saatzucht is almost entirely tained. However, because spring barleys generally have a widerdedicated to barley, with equal emphasis on spring barley, 2 row growing adaption, notes Rob Hiles (Syngentas Seed Businesswinter and 6 row winter. We have a strong emphasis (60 per Sustainability Lead for Europe), they need a broader spectrumcent overall) on malting types for brewing and whiskey, and of disease resistance and general agronomic attributes. 40 per cent on feed types, says Strube. In addition, we are Barley nursery assessing candidate varieties for their suitability. (Photo: Ackermann)6IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'