Quality Conventional and Organic Malting Barley Production in Wisconsin

2013 Annual Report for FNC13-900

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $21,996.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Joe Bragger
Bragger Family Dairy

Quality Conventional and Organic Malting Barley Production in Wisconsin


Most of the land in the driftless area of Western Wisconsin is highly erodible.  Diverse farm enterprises are needed to preserve land, control erosion, and provide economic development in small rural communities found along the Mississippi River. Malting barley is one crop that may fit the needs for farmers in this area.  Barley provides a cropping alternative to a traditional corn/soybean rotation and promotes soil health, is less erosive than corn and soybeans, and can meet a potential growing demand from craft brewers in the state (and region) for local raw ingredients.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Favorable variety test plots

Test plots: 
Three locations with 21 varieties

  •      Schlesser/Farmer Demos
  •      Bragger/Farmer Demos
  •      Danzinger Farms/Replicated Plots

Fungicide Applications 2 Plots    

  •  Danzinger
  •  Bragger

The goal of the test plot research is to identify spring malting varieties that are best suited to western Wisconsin based on yield and quality.  Finding malting barley varieties that can meet malting standards that also thrive in western Wisconsin's climate conditions and differing fertility levels for optimum protein levels is critical to attracting future craft brewers to our malting barley.  Several different soil types from deep rich soils to eroded ridge tops and sandy soils are represented by the three participating farmers.  Plots will also represent various tillage methods; conventional, minimum tillage, and no-till.

The replicated plot was planted on May 15, 2013 using a Hege plot planter. The 2012 crop was corn silage. 40 pounds of N were applied in the form of urea on the entire plot. The plot was sprayed twice with fungicide, the first time on June 6 with Stratego, the 2nd time on around July 6 (exact date varied with the maturity of the variety) with Prosaro. No herbicide was applied to the plot. Very little weed pressure was seen throughout the summer, with the exception of some late yellow foxtail.


Winter Barley Plots:

The winter plot was planted, following corn silage on October 10, 2012 (extremely dry conditions at planting). Four varieties, including McGregor, OR76, Thoroughbred, and Charles were planted each replicated 3 times. Three fertilizer levels were also included in the plot. Unfortunately, we had 100% death loss in the plot due to the open winter conditions including January rain immediately followed by subzero temperatures. A winter variety plot was planted again fall of 2013 in cooperation with the University of Minnesota to analyze winter hardiness of 19 varieties. As of March 31, 2014, it appears that close to 100% of the winter plot did not survive the winter.

Spring Barley Plots:

Spring plots were 4 foot by 20 foot plots replicated three times. Four varieties; Quest, Rasmussen, Scarlett, and Pinnacle were also planted at 1.3 million live seeds per acre and 1.5 million live seeds per acre. Yield and DON information are found in the table listed below.


                                       Moisture        Yield         Yield           DON                               

Name                               %                  Bu/Acre Dif             ppm

Quest 1.3                      11.43              110.19     abc            0.09

Quest 1.5                      11.80              106.47     a-d             0.06

Rasmussen 1.3            12.30              105.01     a-d             0.21

Rasmussen 1.5            12.23               94.45      a-f              0.16

Lacy                              11.80               67.28      efg             0.08

Tradition                       12.00              108.90     a-d             0.14

Innovation                   11.77              111.06     ab              0.10

Scarlett 1.3                   13.40              96.51      a-e              0.08

Scarlett 1.5                   13.57              102.93     a-d             0.12

Pinnacle 1.3                 14.97              103.15     a-d             0.09

Pinnacle 1.5                 15.43              106.75     a-d             0.08

AC Metcalfe                12.83              84.04      a-g             0.06

CDC Copeland            12.60              82.56      b-g              0.10

C131                             12.87               76.68      d-g             0.05

Craft                              13.60              116.57     a                 0.18

Hockett                         13.23              101.86     a-d             0.08

C132                             13.47               64.30      fg                 0.09

C134                             18.17              104.06     a-d              0.18

C135                             13.30               85.73      a-g             0.08

Odyssey                        14.87              100.07     a-d             0.05

Ovature                         15.97               87.22      a-g             0.14

Genie                             18.60               56.87      g                  0.10

NSA 1820A                  13.77               77.39      c-g              0.10

Hadley                          15.77              99.90      a-d             0.11

LSD (P=.05)                 2.402            27.31                         0.06


Highlight – high visual Fusarium on barley heads

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Yields were excellent of both 2 row and 6 row barley.

Very Low DON levels were measured, even with considerable Fusarium Head Blight being visibly present before harvest.

Protein levels in the demo plots (Bragger and Schlesser) were 1.5 – 3% higher, indicating that even very poor stands of alfalfa have too much available nitrogen to make good malting quality.