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Stackyard News Jan 06

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    Westminster Spring Malting Barley Puts Growers Back In Profit

An exciting new spring malting barley variety with excellent disease resistance is set to help growers get back into profit this spring.

Growing Westminster could save farmers at least £17/ha in reduced fungicide costs, and return a higher gross margin according to Nickerson's barley breeder, Mark Glew.

“Westminster has excellent resistance against the two main spring barley diseases. An 8 for Rhynchosporium is the best for any malting variety on the HGCA Recommended List 2006/07 and it is resistant to mildew. It also has one of the highest untreated yields.”

Growers tend to look at headline yield as an indicator of profitability, but the value of disease resistance should not be overlooked, says Mr Glew.

This value was quantified last season in a trial designed by Scottish Agronomy that compared varying levels of fungicide input - from untreated through to fully comprehensive programmes on Westminster and Optic.

“Optic's yield increased with each application, with its gross margin peaking at the normal farm-input programme (£48/ha), after which it wasn't cost effective to increase the input,” explains Mr Glew.

“In contrast Westminster reached a plateau after the first low input application (£31/ha). The following inputs caused the gross margin to drop away sharply. This means because of Westminster's disease resistance growers can use a low input fungicide programme - and could actually be throwing away profit if they keep spending on further inputs.”

Compared to Optic, Westminster returned approximately £40-50/ha more in terms of gross margin, which will be attractive to farmers who chose to grow the variety for either malting or feed.

Westminster has already been awarded provisional approval for brewing by the Institute of Brewing (IOB) and currently 1500t from harvest 2005 is going through additional malting and brewing tests, says Nickerson's Lee Robinson, and he is hopeful of gaining full IOB approval for brewing during 2006.

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