By Mitchell Japp, MSc, PAg
One of the benefits of the barley community is how closely it works together. Researchers collaborate to gain benefits across areas of specialization and environments. At the American Malting Barley Association’s Barley Improvement Conference, it was clear that this is not limited to Canadian barley researchers.
The U.S. barley industry is different than the Canadian industry. Most of the barley production is on contract and has been recently limited to areas similar to ours. Craft beer is encouraging barley production in relatively new areas, which is challenging production paradigms. What benefits can we gain by collaborating with U.S. barley researchers and industry?
An early warning system can improve our adaptations to pests. Barley production can be affected by aphids. There are three main aphids affecting barley production in the U.S., including species like Russian wheat aphid and bird cherry oat aphid that can be problematic in Saskatchewan. The research includes a focus on genetic resistance to aphids. The research has identified a new aphid – hedgehog grain aphid. The threat to barley production is being assessed. Aphid pressure is expected to worsen with climate change.
Winter barley is more grown more often in the U.S.. Their winters are not so severe where winter barley is grown. SaskBarley funded research at Irrigation Crop Diversification Centre found excessive winterkill, despite optimal conditions for overwintering. Regardless of the challenge, U.S. winter barley breeders are working to increase cold tolerance with a goal of having winter barley that can be grown in as harsh of environment as our own.
Some researchers are already collaborating across boarders. Bacterial leaf streak (BLS) was one disease that was touched on. Western Canadian researchers who are working on BLS are collaborating with researchers in North Dakota and beyond to be as effective as possible.
Bringing together researchers and industry is one step in communicating research program results, as well as providing future direction. That will be happening in Canada later this month at the Barley Symposium in Saskatoon. These meetings are integral to effective collaboration amongst researchers and across the industry.