Management practices for production of local malting barley in Northeast
There has been a steadily increasing demand for craft beer in the United States in the past 2 decades, specifically the northeastern and western regions of the country. Currently, there is an insufficient body of research regarding varieties and fertility management plans that would permit growers in the pioneer valley to produce malting-quality barley. Barley must fit into a range of specific quality parameters, such as percent protein and the near absence of Deoxynivalenol (DON, produced by Fusarium head blight), in order to be suitable for malting. However, malt barley has a price premium ($4/bu) over feed barley ($2.90-$3/bu) (2014). This price premium may incentivize production for growers in the region. Consumer demand for locally sourced ingredients, in addition to locally produced beer, may provide further economic incentives for regional malt barley production. Increased understanding of the viable methods for producing malt quality barley in this region would therefore provide economic benefit to local breweries, malt houses, and farmers.
This research project is composed of two major lines of inquiry, which are being addressed through three 1-2 year field trials, focusing on factors contributing to yield and malt-quality of barley as well as the development of comprehensive soil fertility management plan for malt barley in Massachusetts. The research data that will be obtained from this project will form the basis for recommendations for burgeoning malt barley growers in Massachusetts.
1) Identify the best date of planting (DOP) for overwintering barley survival in western Massachusetts
2) Identify barley varieties best suited for fall planting in western Massachusetts
3) Identify the impact of nitrogen (N) amount and timing on malt quality, with focus on protein concentration
4) Identify possible interactions between barley varieties and zinc sulfate in malt quality
5) Identify the impact of spring cover crops on soil fertility in winter barley production
Two trials have already been implemented in the field, with an additional trial planned for implementation in 2015. . The first two trials is being conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s South Deerfield research center, in Massachusetts.
Trial 1 is examining the influence of date of planting (DOP) and 6 nitrogen regimes on the yield and quality characteristics of a winter-planted variety of malting barley in Massachusetts ‘Wint-Malt’ was planted in fall 2014 at 110 lbs/ac, following normalization of soil nutrient and pH characteristics. The trial consists of three DOP (September 05, 15, and 25). Each DOP is replicated 4 times in a randomized complete block (RCB) design. Within each DOP, per block, each of six N regimes are replicated in a RCB design, to create a randomized nested design. The six N regimes consist of either 25 or 0 lbs/ac N applied at the time of sowing, which will be followed by either 25, 50, or 75 lbs N/ac in the spring. Rates of overwintering, as well as yield, harvest index, and malt quality will be assessed in 2015, prior to trial replication in the fall of 2015.
Trial 2 consists of a breeder’s line trial of 24 lines, planted the fall of 2014, using seed obtained from the University of Minnesota. Each line has been replicated 3 times in a RCB design. All lines are planted at 100 lbs/ac. Each plot is 4.5 x13 ft, and is split plot, with half receiving 20 lbs/ac zinc sulfate at the time of planting. Rates of overwintering, as well as yield, harvest index, and malt quality will be assessed in 2015, prior to trial replication in fall 2015.
Trial 3 will evaluate the impact of spring cover crops on soil fertility in winter barley production in the Northeast. Cover crops treatments (Sunn hemp (SH) Crimson clover (CC), Field Peas (FP), SH+CC+FP, and no cover crop) will be planted in early June 2015 on S. Deerfield farm. A single barley variety (‘wint-malt’) will be planted at 2 seeding rates (95 and 115 lbs/ac) in September 2015. Spring N treatments (TBD) will be applied in spring 2016. This trial will consist of a minimum of 4 replicates, and will be conducted on a normalized plot, following soil testing, in the S. Deerfield farm.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
As no samples have been collected at this time, no outcomes have yet been determined. In the spring of 2015, over wintering rates will be determined for Trials 1 and Two, and Trial three will be initiated. In the summer of 2015, yield, harvest index, and malt quality will be assessed for trials 1 and 2. The research data that will be obtained will form the foundational recommendations for malt barley production in Massachusetts. Additional outreach and collaborations are ongoing with Valley Malt of Hadley MA, Carter and Stevens Farm of Barre, MA, and Spencer Brewery of Spencer, MA. Through these collaborations research results will be disseminated and implemented in a commercial setting.
208 Bowditch Hall, 201 Natural Resources Rd., University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135451843
Graduate Research Assistant
University of Massachusetts
107 Bowditch Hall, 201 Natural Resources Rd., University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4136959430