LACOMBE, Alta. — Researchers and seed production representatives are hoping the introduction of two new barley varieties will be game changers when they soon enter the market.
The AB Cattlelac and SR16511 varieties should be available in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The six-row varieties are expected to have better forage yield, as well as improved lodging resistance when compared to others on the market, said Joseph Nyachiro, a barley breeder with Alberta Agriculture.
“I’m very optimistic these varieties will penetrate the market because of the good attributes they have,” he said after showcasing the crops during a field day in Lacombe at the Field Crop Development Centre in late July.
Nyachiro said the two varieties have been about 10 years in the making. To create AB Cattlelac, he crossed AC Ranger (considered a good forage variety) with a separate line. For SR16511, he crossed AC Sundre with another line.
“It’s a long process that takes time, resources and patience,” he said. “Breeding is not an easy job.”
The two varieties are similar in their yield output and disease resistance but differ in terms of their genetic make-up.
Nyachiro said having different genetics allows for better resistance in the field. A disease affecting one variety would have a difficult time infecting the other because the genes are different.
“This is important for the farming community to understand,” he said. “When you have different varieties, you are deploying different genes, and these different genes protect you against the diseases.”
Alliance Seed has begun seed production of AB Cattlelac in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and expects to have the product ready for farmers by 2020.
“It (AB Cattlelac) is impressive,” said Chris Churko, general manager of Alliance Seed.
He told attendees at the event that when varieties yield high, there is usually something else wrong with them. With AB Cattlelac, however, he said it doesn’t have those issues.
“It has a solid disease package, but where it really shines is ultimately in that forage yield,” he said, noting the crop’s smooth awns are ideal for swath grazing.
“This is really filling that niche for the cattle industry.”
Nyachiro said SeCan has taken over the marketing of SR16511. That variety, he said, will soon have a new name once it’s approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.