New malt barley variety accredited
Alestar has just been accredited by Barley Australia today but growers like Mark Humphrey were already planning to sow hundreds of hectares to the new malt barley backed by Elders and Coopers Brewery.
In 2019, Mr Humphrey planted 20 hectares as a trial and was so impressed, he sowed another 90ha in 2020. This year, he’s allocating around 400ha to Alestar.
The property Mr Humphrey farms with parents Robert and Jenny near Murray Bridge, South Australia, averages 375 millimetres of annual rainfall but was “fairly dry” in 2019. Even so, Alestar hit his target of three tonnes per hectare, protein levels were “spot on” for malt barley and it was easy to reap. It produced a similar yield again last year despite a six-week dry spell during the growing season.
“The dry spell stunted the other variety of barley I grew, whereas the Alestar still kept growing and didn’t seem to suffer through that dry spell,” he said.
“The other variety also dropped a lot of heads before we harvested and we lost a lot of barley on the ground but the Alestar seemed to hang onto the heads better.
“The Alestar yielded 3t/ha but the other variety was only 2-2.5t/ha.”
Elders seed manager Colin Smith wasn’t surprised to hear how reliably Alestar performed at Murray Bridge, pointing to other successful crops across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and southern Queensland.
“It just seems to be very versatile in where it will grow,” Mr Smith said.
“Alestar has performed very consistently in Southern NSW around Oaklands and Lockhart and into the Riverina over the past three years, where it has consistently achieved Malt 1 specification.
“Following enquiry from as far afield as Tasmania, we have decided to do some larger scale trial paddocks in Tasmania to see how it performs in the higher rainfall zones as well.
“In 2019, most of the malt barley growing regions of the country had a very tight finish, which increased the screenings at harvest but Alestar has shown that it tolerates these tight finishes better than a lot of varieties and consistently has shown low screening levels.”
Alestar has been trialled extensively across a wide spectrum of growing regions and has shown excellent straw strength, a good disease package and good head retention, Mr Smith said.
The malting and brewing industry has shown good interest in Alestar due to its high-quality malt and the consistency and evenness of the way it malted, he said.
Coopers Brewery, Boortmalt and Barret Burston Malt have expressed interest in securing crop from the 2021 planting, Mr Smith said, while several smaller Brewers like the Armidale based Welders Dog brewery are already using Alestar as their main malt.
To find out more about Alestar barley, contact your local branch.