WHILE most areas of Scotland experienced the ‘harvest from hell’ last year, with spring barley yields most affected, the good news is that there are now new malting barley varieties with extra yield potential to fill last year’s gap.

Speaking at the Agronomy conference, SRUC cereals specialist, Dr Steve Hoad, told delegates that total spring barley yields last year at 5.88tonnes/ha amounted to 1.433m tonnes, compared to the 1.6m tonnes needed to sustain home market demand.

He added that Scotland’s most popular brewing and distilling variety, Concerto, had become seriosuly outclassed by Laureate, which boasts a yield potential of 105% compared to Concerto's 93%.

There is also potential for the other two fully approved distilling varieties, KWS Sassy and Sienna, which recorded yields of 105 and 103%, respectively, as market interest is developing in them too.

Looking further ahead, he said the new varieties, LG Diablo and LG Tomahawk, had potential for even higher yields at 109% and 107%, respectively, although the latter is only for distilling.

Commenting on winter barley, he said the two-row options, KWS Orwell, KWS Infinity and KWS Creswell, remained the highest yielding at 104 and 103%, while KWS Cassia, which is known for its high specific weight, is becoming outclassed for yield at 99%.

There are also three new six-row varieties with good yield potential, including Belmont (109%) and Libra (103%) – which also boasts an ‘excellent’ specific weight. The new conventional six-row, KWS Astaire, is another with low specific weight and yield at (104).

Winter wheat growers also have plenty of choice when it comes to distilling, with KWS Jackal and Elation rated medium and good with yields at 105 and 103, respectively. There is also LG Motown and LG Sundance, both of which are medium for distilling.