What do you plan to do with the crop?

If your end goal is to sell your crop, consult with your grain company representative, local elevator operators, local feed mills, or malting companies to ensure the variety you plan to grow will be accepted by the processor or end user.

Where will the crop grow?

When choosing which varieties to grow, it is critical that you factor in the agronomic and environmental conditions into which the crop will be planted. Based on your growing region and the conditions and limitations of your farm, choose varieties that have the greatest potential for yields, standability, and disease resistance. Also remember that the highest yielding cultivars may not always be the best choice.

Additional information on barley varieties

Two-row versus six-row
Two-row barley varieties generally have later maturity, larger seeds and more resistance to leaf rust and mildew.

Traditionally, two-row varieties tended to have lower yields than six-row varieties. However, investment in two-row breeding and research has resulted in many current two-row varieties that are as good or higher yielding than comparable six-row varieties.

Six-row barley varieties are generally more tolerant of late planting as they deal better with heat and moisture and have better resistance to scald. Six-row varieties also tend to be less competitive for underseedings, as they have more open canopies. They also tend to have lower bushel weights and are more susceptible to head breaking.

Hulled versus hulless
Hulled barley is, by far, the most commonly produced and available type in Canada. However, hulled varieties of barley are being produced and sold into some food and feed markets. 'Hulless' barley varieties differ from 'hulled' barley because the outer hulls are more easily removed from the seed during the combining process. Without the hulls attached, these varieties have a higher percentage of nutrients, protein and energy, as well as less volume.

However, hulless varieties also tend to have lower yields and require more careful harvesting and handling. Hulless barley also tends to have a lower fibre content than hulled barley and higher bushel weights, which is an important consideration for calculating seeding rates. There are currently two main types of hulless varieties: normal and waxy. The normal type has a similar traditional ratio of amylose to amylopectin starch fractions as those found in regular barley. The waxy type has a very high percentage of amylopectin starch. Markets for waxy barley are being developed.

Malting barley
Malting barley can be a more challenging crop to grow, as maltsters have strict specifications for these crops, in terms of their production, harvest and storage conditions. Also, each malting variety has a unique quality profile that must be maintained, so farmers are required to plant, store and ship malting varieties separately.

It's a good idea to talk to your local maltster or grain buyer about their required malting barley production specifications and market opportunities before seeding.

Additional information on barley varieties

Two-row versus six-row
Two-row barley varieties generally have later maturity, larger seeds and more resistance to leaf rust and mildew.

Traditionally, two-row varieties tended to have lower yields than six-row varieties. However, investment in two-row breeding and research has resulted in many current two-row varieties that are as good or higher yielding than comparable six-row varieties.

Six-row barley varieties are generally more tolerant of late planting as they deal better with heat and moisture and have better resistance to scald. Six-row varieties also tend to be less competitive for underseedings, as they have more open canopies. They also tend to have lower bushel weights and are more susceptible to head breaking.

Hulled versus hulless
Hulled barley is, by far, the most commonly produced and available type in Canada. However, hulled varieties of barley are being produced and sold into some food and feed markets. 'Hulless' barley varieties differ from 'hulled' barley because the outer hulls are more easily removed from the seed during the combining process. Without the hulls attached, these varieties have a higher percentage of nutrients, protein and energy, as well as less volume.

However, hulless varieties also tend to have lower yields and require more careful harvesting and handling. Hulless barley also tends to have a lower fibre content than hulled barley and higher bushel weights, which is an important consideration for calculating seeding rates. There are currently two main types of hulless varieties: normal and waxy. The normal type has a similar traditional ratio of amylose to amylopectin starch fractions as those found in regular barley. The waxy type has a very high percentage of amylopectin starch. Markets for waxy barley are being developed.

Malting barley
Malting barley can be a more challenging crop to grow, as maltsters have strict specifications for these crops, in terms of their production, harvest and storage conditions. Also, each malting variety has a unique quality profile that must be maintained, so farmers are required to plant, store and ship malting varieties separately.

It's a good idea to talk to your local maltster or grain buyer about their required malting barley production specifications and market opportunities before seeding.

Be cautious with new malting varieties

Use caution before growing new malting varieties that may not be approved by maltsters or brewers. New malting varieties are subject to strict and lengthy testing procedures by brewing and malting companies before they’re deemed acceptable. These procedures include plant scale evaluation, test malting and brewing, and taste testing panels, and usually take at least three years to complete from start to finish.

Always check with your malting company before you choose to grow a new malting variety.