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, uniform grain size, 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 over feed barley. 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. This research aims to increase the understanding of the viable methods for producing malt quality barley in the region in order to provide economic benefit to local breweries, malt houses, and farmers.
This research project is composed of several major lines of inquiry, which are being addressed through four 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 and spring planting in western Massachusetts
3) Identify the impact of nitrogen (N) amount and timing on malt quality, with focus on protein concentration
5) Identify the impact of fall cover crops on soil fertility in winter barley production
Two field trials were implemented in 2014, with two additional trials being implemented in 2015. Data analysis and dissemination is ongoing for the trials implemented in the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015.
Trial 1 is examining the influence of date of planting (DOP) and 6 nitrogen regimes on the yield and quality characteristics of a fall-planted variety of malting barley in Massachusetts. ‘Wint-Malt’ was planted in fall 2014 at the rate of 110 lbs/ac, following normalization of soil nutrient and pH characteristics. The trial consisted 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 were replicated in a RCB design, to create a randomized nested design. The six N regimes consisted of either 25 or 0 lbs/ac N applied at the time of sowing, which will be followed by either 25, 45, or 65 lbs N/ac in the spring. Rates of overwintering survival, as well as grain yield, harvest index, nitrogen use efficiency, and malt quality are currently being assessed and analyzed. This trial was replicated in the fall of 2015, with the incorporation of an additional treatment of zero N application to permit the assessment of nitrogen uptake efficiency.
Trial 2 consists of participation in two multi-state breeder’s line trials. Twenty-four lines, were planted the fall of 2014, using seeds obtained from the University of Minnesota as part of a multistate initiative to examine the performance of fall planted barley cultivars in the Northeast. Each line has been replicated 3 times in a RCB design. All lines are planted at 100 lbs/ac. All assessments were made in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the University of Minnesota, and results from the UMass trial location are in preparation for dissemination to the local malt barley growing community. This trial is in replication at the UMass Research farm in 2015. Twenty breeder’s lines of spring planted barley, seeds obtained from the University of North Dakota, were planted in the spring of 2015 at the rate of 1 M PLS/ac, in accordance with the multi-state trial guidelines. Assessments were made in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the University of North Dakota, and results from the UMass trial location have been submitted and are in preparation for dissemination to the local malt barley growing community. This trial is will be replicated at the UMass Research farm in 2016.
Trial 3 is evaluating the impact of summer cover crops on soil fertility in winter barley production in the Northeast. Cover crops treatments (Sunn hemp (SH) Crimson clover (CC), SH+CC, and no cover crop) were planted in early July 2015 at S. Deerfield Farm. Two barley varieties (‘Wint-malt’ and ‘Charles’) have been planted at 3 seeding rates (300, 350, and 450 seeds/ m2) in September 2015. Cover crop biomass samples were taken as two linear sub- samples per plot on September 8th, 2015, immediately prior to cover crop incorporation. Two weeks following incorporation, the winter barley was seeded into each cover crop treatment. Soil samples were taken at first frost and are currently being analyzed for soil nitrate. This trial consists of four replicates, and is being conducted on a normalized plot, following soil testing, in the S. Deerfield Farm. Rates of overwintering, as well as grain yield, harvest index, nitrogen use efficiency, and malt quality will be assessed and analyzed. In relation to this trial, we are also collaborating with Cater and Stevens Farm, of Barre MA to replicate the cover crop treatments in a commercial setting.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
On June 24, 2015 in conjunction with Valley Malt, we hosted the first UMass Agricultural Field Day to focus on Malt barley production and networking in the region. The focus of this event was to explain and discuss the field trials discussed above with participants interested in growing malt barley in the region. Additionally, we were able to bring in three distinguished malt barley researchers, Richard Horsley, Paul Schartz and Martin Hochhalter from the University of North Dakota to provide a fuller depth of knowledge for participants. A round table amongst experienced growers, maltsers, and researchers in the area provided a forum for participants to ask any questions not covered by speakers, and was very well attended. The field day had 92 attendees, 57 of which came specifically for barley information. We aim to repeat this event next summer, given the high attendance and participation rate. Furthermore, this research has provided the opportunity for multiple undergraduates from UMass, Amherst to had engage directly with hands on agricultural research and the interface between extension research and commercial growers.
The data that has been obtained from the 2014 plantings is currently under analysis in preparation for publication as foundational recommendations for malt barley production in Massachusetts. Preliminary results were presented at the Plant Biology Symposium, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA in the fall of 2015. Additionally, preliminary results were published in the Massachusetts research report page 24, 2015 as ‘Impacts of Planting Date, Nitrogen, Cultivar, and Zinc on Barley Malt Quality’. This research has been accepted for presentation at the the Northeastern Plant, Pest, & Soils Conference Jan 3-7, 2016.
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