Farmer sends sheep into Alestar accredited malt barley and still gets a harvest
Alestar barley was given full Malt status just a few weeks ago and Murray Bridge mixed farmer Andrew Willis says he believes it may also be the versatile performer mixed operations really need.
It behaved like a true dual-purpose barley, with Mr Willis treating it like a forage crop before taking it through to harvest.
“It kept up with the Moby barley I sowed next to it all year,” Mr Willis said.
“I even let the sheep in there and grazed the Alestar for four weeks and I still got a respectable harvest and achieved Malt 1 as well.
“It must be a palatable plant because, to keep the seed clean, I’ve cut two strips of hay around it and the sheep really like those bales of hay.”
Elders seed manager Colin Smith said Alestar had been trialled extensively across diverse growing regions and has shown excellent straw strength, good disease resistance and good head retention.
“It just seems to be very versatile in where it will grow,” Mr Smith said.
At Murray Bridge, Mr Willis said Alestar’s resilience had real on-farm benefits over the two years he’s grown the variety.
“We got a really heavy frost in the first season and two Compass crops were write-offs that we had to cut for hay but we still harvested the Alestar,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem to get the leaf diseases that other barley varieties get either, which saves me spraying.”
Mr Willis had found it easy to reap and the strength of its straw offered an added bonus.
With such success on his 25-hectare sowing last year, Mr Willis expects to plant 120-200 hectares of Alestar this year.
“I think the way it grows, if it turns into a short season, it makes a good choice. It seems to keep growing even during winter and if the rain stops early,” he said.
“I haven’t found too many negatives with it.”
To find out more about Alestar barley, contact your local branch.