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Malting Barley Seminar

Farmers from across the south east are attending the Malting Barley Seminar organised by Teagasc in the Millrace Hotel, Bunclody, County Wexford, today, Wednesday, 15 February.

The seminar is taking place against the backdrop of low incomes for tillage farmers. However the demand for malting barley continues to grow with the distilling sector on an upward trajectory. “Teagasc have a commitment to support the malting barley sector to develop and meet the demands coming from industry,” said Michael Hennessy, Head of the Teagasc Crops Knowledge Transfer Programmme.

The seminar is focussing on the technical aspects of producing malting barley for brewing (beer) and distilling (whiskey) markets.

“The variety plays an important part for a grower to successfully deliver malting barley,” according to Seamus Kearney, from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s variety testing section. “Growers should consider all the characteristics of the crop including straw, disease resistance, etc and adjust management to ensure yield and quality are maintained,” he added.

Ciaran Collins, Teagasc Specialist is providing the audience with an update on skinning in barley (where the grain loses some or its entire outer husk) from research by SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College. Ciaran is pointing out the factors found to contribute to skinning which included variety, nitrogen, harvesting and environmental factors. “There is no easy solution to the problem. Early drilling, avoid excessive nitrogen and ensure the correct combine settings, especially where skinning susceptible varieties are grown,” added Ciaran.

Liz Glynn, Teagasc, is delivering an in-depth review of fungicide trials and the best strategies to implement in 2017. “Trials are consistently showing that a lower rate of a combined fungicide product will give good disease control and the best return for money,” said Liz. “Spending roughly equal amounts on fungicides at each timing has shown to be the best strategy, “said Liz.

The growing distilling market is driving demand for low protein barley, however the low protein can be difficult to achieve. Dr Richie Hackett, Teagasc will outline research in this area. “There is no guarantee every well managed field will achieve distilling quality,” said Richie. “Site selection based on previous low proteins combined with excellent agronomic management and with low nitrogen inputs give the best possibility of producing low protein barleys,” said Dr Hackett.

The importance of getting the foundations of the crop correct will be addressed by Ciaran Hickey, Teagasc advisor. Areas such as, a good seed bed, base fertiliser and a targeted seed rate for the conditions are of critical importance to achieve high yield. “Growers need to establish a high shoot number to achieve high grain numbers which in turn lead to high yield,” said Ciaran. “Research has established key targets to achieve, to maximise yield and quality. Growers should use these established targets, because learning from experience is a cruel teacher, as you have to get the experience first and then the lesson afterwards,’’ he added.

The seminar will be repeated in Corrin Mart, Fermoy, Cork, tomorrow, Thursday, 16 February at 2pm.