This project seeks to compare the agronomic performance of 2 malting barley varieties; LCS Genie and KWS Tinka to Newdale. We will evaluate these varieties using a similar system used in the UESMBN project; yield, visual foliar disease severity, height, lodging, evenness of ripening, and heading date. Samples will be sent for laboratory analysis for evaluation of thousand kernel weight, test weight, DON (vomitoxin), pre-harvest sprouting, and germination energy. We will then use our existing malting system to malt these varieties and analyze them for extract yield and beta glucan levels. Malted samples will be sent to local breweries interested in using these varieties for inclusion in their beer production.
The primary objective of this proposal is to determine if LCS Genie and KWS Tinka perform better than, similar to, or inferior to Newdale and identify if they have the potential to hold a place in the regional craft brewing industry.
Malting barley is commonly grown in Aroostook County Maine as a component of potato cropping systems. The primary markets for malting barley are large commercial grain elevators who market the barley to Canadian malting companies. Historically, c.v. Newdale has been the variety of choice for Aroostook County producers. Newdale consistently produces satisfactory yields, low protein levels, and exhibits relatively high tolerance to pre-harvest sprout and vomitoxin and is considered to be well suited to Northern Maine’s humid summer climate.
As the craft brewing industry in Maine has expanded and diversified over the past 30 plus years, so has the demand for additional and alternative malting barley varieties with favorable characteristics for the brewer, maltster, and farmer. Brewers striving to create unique beers are in search of ingredients that will set their products apart from their competitors. The blend of ingredients help to create the unique taste and “story” behind each beer which is proven to attract customers in a relatively crowded marketplace. Maltsters need varieties with characteristics such as high germination, low protein and vomitoxin levels, plump kernels that maximize extract yield, and produce low Beta Glucan levels. Farmers prefer varieties that produce high marketable yields, high resistance to pre-harvest sprout and vomitoxin, low protein levels, and exhibit evening ripening in the field. Consistency is paramount to the market accepting new malting barley varieties. All sectors of the brewing industry want the ingredients they use to behave the same each time they are used. While Newdale has held its reign as the top malting barley variety grown in Maine for several years, advances in barley genetics have produced several additional varieties that have garnered interest.
In 2015 with funding from the Craft Maltsters Guild, The University of Maine began participating in the Uniform Eastern Spring Malting Barley Nursery (UESMBN) project. For the past 4 seasons 20 to 25 malting barley varieties have been planted in 2 sites in Maine; Presque Isle in Aroostook County, and Old Town in Penobscot County. The results have been of interest to local barley producers and have highlighted 2 varieties, LCS Genie and KWS Tinka that show promise in the Northeast. In addition to the positive agronomic characteristics, brewers have taken notice and have begun requesting an increasing volume of these varieties for use in their beer production.
As barley producers and owners of the Maine Malt House, we are interested in taking the results from the UESMBN project and moving them into field trials to better understand how these varieties might perform in the field and in our malt house compared to our standard variety, Newdale. We feel that if these varieties can perform satisfactorily on a field scale, we will be able to supply our customers with the ingredients they demand as well as increase financial returns and efficiency in our operation. The project will provide beneficial information for barley growers in Maine, whom from 2004 through 2013 raised 17,400 acres (USDA, NASS) and the Northeast.
From 2015 to 2018 with funding from the Brewers Association and the Craft Maltsters Guild, The University of Maine, in partnership with North Dakota State University and up to 10 additional institutions throughout the Eastern USA and Atlantic Canada, have been hosting malting barley variety trials in Presque Isle and Old Town, Maine. Each year between 20 and 25 varieties have been grown as part of this ongoing project. The goal of the project is to identify malting barley varieties that can be grown successfully in the Northeast USA and Maritime Region of Atlantic Canada. Besides success in the field, these varieties must also meet the quality parameters of the malting and brewing industries.
In these trials, Newdale is often used as the check variety in which other cultivars performance are compared. While Newdale is consistently a top performer there are other varieties not currently being grown in the Northeast, specifically Maine, that have potential to surpass Newdale’s successes. To our knowledge, this consortium has been the only in depth detailed malting barley variety trial specific to Northeast North America. The results of these trials have produced useful information on cultivar selection, malt quality characteristics, and disease susceptibility. These trials have proven that there are varieties that do not perform well in our climate and some that consistently do. Many of the varieties in these trials are experimental lines of which there is limited to no available seed for field trials. Some of the varieties are now becoming commercially available in North America and are being produced successfully throughout the barley growing regions of the continent.
One major challenge in deciphering the trial results is that they are all small plot trials usually positioned in an ideal area of a field or research station site. Field scale experimentation is the next logical step in determining the suitability of a variety for a given region.
New England Agricultural Statistics. 2013 pg. 39 https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/New_England…/Oatsb2013.pdf
Spring Malting Barley Variety Trial 2015 Results. Mallory, Ellen and Thomas Molloy. University of Maine. https://extension.umaine.edu/grains-oilseeds/topics/spring-barley-variety-trials/malting-barley-variety-trial/
Spring Malting Barley Variety Trial 2016 Results. Mallory, Ellen and Thomas Molloy. University of Maine. https://extension.umaine.edu/grains-oilseeds/topics/spring-barley-variety-trials/malting-barley-variety-trial-2016-results/
Spring Malting Barley Variety Trial 2017 Results. Mallory, Ellen and Thomas Molloy. University of Maine. https://extension.umaine.edu/grains-oilseeds/topics/spring-barley-variety-trials/malting-barley-variety-trial-2017-results/
Identifying Spring Malting Barley Varieties Adapted to the Eastern U.S. Brewers Association. https://www.brewersassociation.org/grants/identifying-spring-malting-barley-varieties-adapted-eastern-u-s/
My family has been farming seed potatoes and cereal grains in Mapleton, Maine since 1958. In order to satisfy the appetite of the expanding craft brewing industry, in 2015 along with my father, uncles, and 3 brothers we expanded our farming operation to include the Maine Malt House. Our facility was designed and built by us and includes numerous grain bins, a continuous flow grain dryer, an experimental 2 ton malting system, a state-of-the-art commercial 10 ton malting system, quality control equipment, and a packaging line. We service the Northeast brewing and distilling industry with high quality malts and grains.
In addition to malt, we supply premium seed and feed to to retail stores all across New England. We also supply commercial seed and custom cleaning, treating, blending and packaging services to farms in the Northeast. Today we produce 300 acres of seed potatoes, 300 acres of malting barley, 300 acres of oats, and 150 acres of sunflowers.
Our technical advisor for this project is Jake Dyer, who is an agronomist and crop development specialist for the Maine Potato Board. Jake will assist with the design and implementation of this project as well as taking measurements and collecting data throughout the growing season.
Our farm will provide all necessary equipment for this project including field equipment, drying capabilities, storage and cleaning facilities and equipment, and malting services.
On May 29th we planted all of the barley variety plots. Each variety was sown in the same field in 3 strips each with each strip containing roughly 3 acres. In total their were 9 strips (Tinka, Genie, Newdale, Tinka, Genie Newdale, etc) all following a 2018 crop of sunflowers. Prior to planting the barley seeds, a seed count was conducted and then converted to population per acreage using the following formula:
Seeding Rate (lbs/ac) = ((Target Pop./(1-stand loss))/(Seeds/lb*germ%)
A target population of 1.25 Million plants per acre was used and a stand loss of 10%. That gave us the following seeding rates:
Newdale – 150 lbs/ac
Genie – 137 lbs/ac
Tinka – 168 lbs/ac
The grain drill was then calibrated for each variety by lifting the drive wheel and calculating revolutions/ac and weighing the seed from 6 chutes as a fraction of the total acre. Along with calibrating the seed from the chutes, we also calibrated the fertilizer dispenser for 340 lbs of 19-0-19 (65 lb of N) per acre.
The plots were planted using a GPS guidance system to eliminate overlap and better achieve the target population. All of the seed was treated with CruiserMaxx Vibrance Cereals prior to planting at a rate of 5oz/100 lbs. The final acreage for each variety was:
Newdale – 9.2 acres
Tinka – 9.0 acres
Genie – 9.4 acres
Below was a picture of randomly pulled heads from each variety (from left to right: Tinka, Newdale, Genie). This was taking approaximately 30 days before harvest. All of the kernels look to be plump at this point, but Tinka definitely stands out as having the most kernels/head.
Harvest: The Newdale and Tinka trials were harvested on August 27th and due to weather the Genie was harvest a few days later on August 31st. The combine used GPS to ensure that the plots were harvest as efficiently as possible. Each variety was scaled and the total weights and yields are as follows:
Newdale – 36,180 lbs – 753.75 bu = 81.9 bu/ac (100.00%)
Tinka – 40,820 lbs – 850.4 bu = 94.5 bu/ac (115.38%)
Genie – 40,180 lbs – 837.1 bu = 89.1 bu/ac (108.79%)
Looking at the yields, both varieties under consideration outperformed the standard (Newdale) with Tinka at about 15% more bushels per acre and Genie at about 9% more bushels per acre.