Variety Transition – It’s Happening!
By Mitchell Japp, MSc, PAg
There is a new top malting barley variety: AAC Synergy. All my life, at least to the point where I could remember, there have been only three top malt barley varieties, but now that number has grown to four.
Harrington dominated the malt barley growing area for approximately 15 years, succeeded by AC Metcalfe for another 15 years or so, followed by CDC Copeland. CDC Copeland’s tenure, while slightly shorter, was a close runner-up in acreage to AC Metcalfe for several years.
Since 2021, AAC Synergy has been steadily making its presence known, gradually inching closer to surpassing CDC Copeland, which it did in 2023. AAC Synergy has held steady at around 30 per cent of malt barley acres, while CDC Copeland has declined from 37 per cent to 22 per cent the past three growing seasons.
Variety transition has been a challenge in malt barley, but it looks like there are new varieties that could supplant AAC Synergy. AAC Connect and CDC Fraser’s share of malt barley acres have increased by 30-100 per cent in the past three years. Combined, AAC Connect and CDC Fraser nearly match the seeded area of CDC Copeland. Individually, both new varieties exceed the seeded area of AC Metcalfe.
Traditionally, the most popular barley variety has been a malt variety. However, in the last three years, CDC Austenson has emerged as the top barley variety. Despite its status, CDC Austenson is no longer the highest-yielding feed variety around, corresponding with a decline in acreage.
CDC Maverick and Claymore are the second and third most common feed varieties in Saskatchewan. Their seeded area remained consistent since last year. Most other feed varieties maintain relatively small acreages, but there’s anticipation surrounding upcoming releases, such as CDC Durango, Cantu and AB Advantage. These varieties, among others, boast excellent agronomics and high yield potential, promising a positive shift in the market landscape.
SaskBarley invests substantially in variety development, Saskatchewan regional variety performance trials and market development of new varieties. Barley farmers experience favourable returns on their investments in variety development. These returns can be enhanced by ensuring a faster, more transparent and predictable acceptance of new varieties by end users. SaskBarley works with the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre and other partners to encourage the trialling and adoption of new malt barley varieties by end users. This collaborative effort aims to provide barley farmers with the advantages of improved yield potential, disease resistance and superior agronomic traits.