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A potential malting variety, agronomically similar to Hindmarsh, is shaping up as promising for Nyabing grain grower Ben Hobley.
Mr Hobley, who farms along with his brother Jarrad and father Neil, planted 20 hectares of the new barley variety, La Trobe this season and said that it has the potential to be an excellent fit in low to medium rainfall regions of Western Australia (WA).
“We wanted to grow La Trobe this year because it is a potential malting alternative that is very similar to Hindmarsh,” Mr Hobley said. “A key economic driver is that we’re working on the assumption that it yields like Hindmarsh.”
National Variety Trial (NVT) data compiled from 2005-13 indicates that La Trobe consistently matched Hindmarsh across the six WA Agzones. La Trobe also consistently yielded 110 per cent or above of the site mean yield across the NVT sites, making it the highest yielding potential malting barley across the state.
La Trobe is a Hindmarsh alternative for growers with excellent yields in the low to medium rainfall environments and from a quality perspective, possesses malting characteristics potentially well suited to export brewing industries. It is currently undergoing commercial malt accreditation with accreditation likely in March 2015.
CBH Grain Barley Trading Manager, Trevor Lucas, said CBH sent some La Trobe from last harvest for evaluation to one of the largest maltsters in China.
“They were happy with the grain quality in general except slightly lower protein due to the season,” Mr Lucas said. “Initial micro-malting trials indicated that the sample performed well in protein modification with good free amino nitrogen, extract and diastatic power levels.
“They are still working on a suitable malting program that can bring out the potential of this variety.”
InterGrain and Syngenta have taken an aggressive approach to the market development strategy behind La Trobe and have fostered the production of large tonnages of the variety of to aid international market development.
Syngenta Head of Cereals, Ben Miles, said this season is no exception and InterGrain and Syngenta have worked closely with CBH Grain who has committed to two segregations this harvest for La Trobe, one at the Metro Grains Centre and the other at a Western Kwinana receival site, likely to be within the Brookton region.
“La Trobe is now in the second phase of the annual assessment and it is expected that further information on the outcome of the pilot brewing phase will be available by Christmas,” Mr Miles said.
“Based on the recent feedback of a sample being available for pilot brewing, we strongly encourage growers to retain as much seed as possible for planting in 2015 as we are confident that they will be planting the variety with the knowledge that it has malt accreditation.
“Farmer-to-farmer trade is available this harvest and it is recommended that growers trade excess seed, with seed also available for purchase from local resellers and Syngenta Seedgro members.”
Mr Hobley, who grows La Trobe alongside Scope and Buloke, said head retention was also a key driver for adopting the new variety.
“Head loss can leave you exposed and we didn’t want our whole program in one variety,” Mr Hobley said. “We have been growing Scope and Buloke but introduced La Trobe to mitigate some of the head loss risk.
“We also wanted a variety that was a bit shorter season that can handle a slightly tougher finish that is common to our growing environment.