New 2-Row Looks Set to match Hybrid Barley Yields

June 2013

Growers looking for a step up in winter barley yield should look no further than KWS Glacier which has a 3% yield advantage over current on-farm favourite, KWS Cassia.

No Recommended List variety beats it for yield in the Eastern Region where it is 4% higher yielding than Retriever and on heavy land KWS Glacier is also the top performer with a 2% yield advantage over the hybrid six-row, Volume.

According to the company’s barley breeder, David Harrap, the breakthrough yield in KWS Glacier has come from combining the vigour and tillering capacity of Retriever with the typical bold grained nature of current on farm favourite KWS Cassia.

“Retriever is a strong growing barley and one that does well in stressful conditions, however, it often fails to deliver a decent sample, simply as a result of being unable to fill the high number of grains on the large number of tillers it produces,” he says.

“So, by crossing it with KWS Cassia – which has a strong finish and excellent grain-fill - we have managed to combine the best of both sets of parent characteristics in KWS Glacier.

Mr Harrap also points out that the use of Retriever as a parent can also help improve barley performance in a second cereal situation.† “It always does well in this slot in our trials, but on our first cereal sites has the tendency to produce more tillers and extra grain which it often fails to fill.

“At 69.9kg/hl KWS Glacier has a similar bold grain to that of market leader KWS Cassia; add to this some excellent low screening levels and KWS Glacier has the potential to deliver an excellent sample on farm,” he says.

KWS Glacier is BaYMV resistant and a relatively early ripening variety - a day ahead of KWS Cassia and Saffron.† It is a short, stiff strawed two-row, with† a 7 for resistance to lodging, so stands strong and delivers.† Indeed, across official trials it has an unbeatable lodging score of just 1% treated and untreated.

KWS Glacier also offers good disease resistance with 6-ratings for the wet weather diseases Rhynchosporium and net blotch, and combines this with a yellow rust rating of 7.

In terms of agronomy and the ability to produce the highest yields, Mr Harrap suggests that growers look to drill KWS Glacier reasonably early from mid-September. †

“It is a higher tillering two-row, so lower seed rates may suffice, but this depends upon local conditions and seedbeds and growers should aim for a spring population of around 300 plants/m2,” he says.

While Defra’s RB209 guidelines recommend up to 210kg/ha N on poorer soils on the most fertile of land, yields of 10-11t/ha are possible and here higher rates of 220kg/ha could be justified.

“We’ve seen yields from KWS Glacier of average 11.59t/ha across 117 individual plots in our development work, but this is really throwing the book at the crop, including an autumn fungicide,” says Mr Harrap.

Mr Harrap says that KWS Glacier †– selected from Retriever crosses made seven years ago – has benefited from KWS’s fast track breeding process, aimed at delivering new top yielding varieties to growers as quickly as possible.† “We look to be a couple of years ahead of other breeders with this technique and should continue to make advances,” he says.