Barley: a crop for all seasons

June 12, 2012 at 7:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter barley in April, 6 weeks before the harvest.
The new varieties offer high yield, cold tolerance
and other traits

ICARDA’s barley program is developing varieties adapted to the many different environments where the crop is grown. The new varieties offer high and stable yields, as well as drought and/or cold tolerance, disease resistance and other traits. Several thousand genotypes of spring and winter barley are being tested, with field plots at Tel Hadya extending over 40 hectares.

In winter barley, more than 16,000 genotypes are being evaluated in nurseries, yield trials and breeding plots. Research covers both 2-row and 6-row types; the former for drought-prone environments, the latter generally for high-input irrigated production. Multi-environment testing has allowed breeders to significantly improve a range of traits: yield, drought and cold tolerance, earliness, plant height (to facilitate mechanized harvesting), disease resistance and grain quality. For example, drought tolerance trials at Tel Hadya, combined with cold tolerance screening in highland areas in Iran and Turkey, are helping to develop varieties that combine both traits. A number of genotypes have performed extremely well this season, including Sadik-01/… (2-row) and Kc/Mullers/Heydla//… (6-row).

In spring barley, breeders work with an extremely diverse range of genotypes: 2- and 6-row, black- and white-seeded, and different spike shapes. The aim is to improve yield and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses in feed, forage and food types (including the so-called ‘naked barley’). Other target traits include malting quality and input-responsiveness (varieties that can give very high yields under favorable conditions). This season, a number of varieties yielded more than 8.5 tons per hectare on large-scale demonstration plots.

For more information contact Dr Flavio Capettini, barley breeder, email; and Dr Adnan Al-Yassin, barley breeder, email

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