Tomorrow's brews, breakfast cereals and candies
might be made with a new malting barley, "Charles," from ARS and university
scientists in Idaho. Click the image for more information about
New Barley Bred for Candymakers,
Brewmastersand More By
Marcia Wood December 23, 2005
Scrumptious chocolate-malt truffles, perfect for a holiday indulgence,
might soon be made with malt from a superb new barley. So might your favorite
breakfast cereal or brew, according to plant geneticist
E. Obert, a barley and oat breeder with the Agricultural Research Service
The novel barley, named "Charles," is the result of more than a decade
of testing by Obert and others at the ARS
Grains and Potato Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho.
Colleague Darrell M. Wesenberg, now retired, selected the barley from
among thousands of candidate plants in 1994. Over the next 10 years, tests in
Idaho, Oregon and Washington showed that this experimental barley, designated
as "94AB1274," produced impressive quantities of plump, heavy kernels.
Based on these results, ARS researchers and their
University of Idaho
co-investigators offered the new barley variety to researchers, plant breeders
and seed companies earlier this year. The scientists named the barley "Charles"
in honor the late Charles F. Murphy, formerly national program leader for ARS
grain crop research.
Now, a major U.S. brewery is leading rigorous tests to determine if
the barley meets the exacting standards of the
American Malting Barley Association, a
feat no U.S.-grown winter malting barley has yet achieved. Results are expected
by late 2006.
Winter barleys, planted in Idaho in October and harvested in mid-July,
offer several key advantages over spring barleys, planted in May and harvested
in August. The fall planting gives the winter varieties a chance to germinate
and grow before going into winter dormancy. In spring, the plants are bigger
and stronger than spring-planted barleys, which are just beginning to sprout
Earlier ripening means winter barleys are ready to harvest earlier,
often avoiding stress-inducing summer heat that can result in thinner, lighter
kernels instead of plump, heavier ones.
What's more, earliness means grain elevators where stores of the
previous year's harvest are dwindling can be filled that much sooner.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.