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A new barley variety, agronomically similar to Hindmarsh but with high potential to be an export malting variety, is ticking all of the boxes for Warracknabeal grain grower, Cam Penny.
La Trobe, a new barley variety from the InterGrain and Syngenta collaboration, is, from a grower’s perspective, a Hindmarsh alternative with excellent yields in low to medium rainfall environments. From a quality perspective, La Trobe’s malting characteristics are potentially well suited to export brewing industries.
La Trobe is currently undergoing commercial malt accreditation with accreditation likely in March 2015.
Mr Penny, who farms the majority of his operation near Warracknabeal in the northern Wimmera region of Victoria, grew 40Ha of La Trobe in 2013/14 as part of a bulk-up season for the new variety.
“We were really happy with its performance in our first year growing the variety,” Mr Penny said. “It yielded a tad over 3.5 tonnes per hectare and considering the season that was a good result.”
Mr Penny said that a variety with the same agronomic traits as Hindmarsh that can be sold for a premium price to the export malt market is an attractive proposition.
“It was comparable to Hindmarsh which was planted in the paddock beside it and assuming that La Trobe receives malt accreditation, it will phase Hindmarsh out of our operation.
“We’re planning to plant 100 per cent of out barley program to La Trobe for 2015/16, approximately 1800Ha, so we have good confidence in the variety.”
La Trobe offers excellent export brewing characteristics with high malt extract, high diastase and high fermentability. It also possesses excellent physical grain characteristics with good grain size, grain plumpness and has excellent test weight.
Syngenta Head of Cereals, Ben Miles, said international market development for La Trobe is a high priority and limited GrainCorp segregation will be available at Murtoa, Victoria during the 2014/15 harvest.
“A La Trobe receival site at Murtoa is an excellent sign for the variety and seed sales in Victoria and Southern New South Wales has been fantastic this year,” Mr Miles said.
InterGrain and Syngenta have recently been notified that there is a La Trobe sample suitable for submission to pilot brewing, the second phase of the annual assessment. Mr Miles said they expect to have further information on the outcome of the pilot brewing phase by Christmas 2014.
“InterGrain and Syngenta have been very aggressive with the market development strategy behind La Trobe and have fostered the production of large tonnages of the variety to aid international market development.
“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.
“Seed is not available for farmer-to-farmer trade in the eastern states though it can be purchased from local resellers and Syngenta Seedgro members.”
Mr Penny also farms near Nullawil where he has also grown La Trobe, and said that the variety has the ability to grow well in the southern Mallee and northern Wimmera.
“Its ability to yield in a drier year and its short length of growing season are both big advantages,” Mr Penny said. “Years where the season cuts off early and you get a dry spring, you are still likely to get a good yield with La Trobe as opposed to a longer season variety.”
“At the same time, La Trobe is a variety that can yield as well as the best yielding good season varieties too.”
La Trobe has moderately good straw strength and head retention, and this combined with a high level of pre-harvest sprouting tolerance will prove a definite advantage in seasons where there is above average harvest rainfall.
La Trobe has a similar disease resistance profile to Hindmarsh and offers good Powdery Mildew resistance (MR), Scald resistance (pathotype dependent) and Net-form of Net Blotch resistance.
La Trobe seed is now available from local resellers or Syngenta Seedgro members and will be available for farmer-to-farmer trading for the 2015/16 harvest.
La Trobe has an EPR of $4/tonne exclusive of GST and the Syngenta Variety Seed License available from www.intergrain.com