Researcher Presentation: Improving the Sustainability of Malting Barley Production

CBC Online 2020
Speakers: Sarah Windes

Perennial malting barley is an exciting proposition. The change in growth habit from annual to perennial could contribute to the long-term viability and sustainability of barley as a crop, and simultaneously provide needed ecosystem services. However, this excitement needs to be firmly grounded in genetics and supply chain realties. The genetic basis of perennial growth habit is not known. Our understanding of the genetic basis for malting quality and brewing quality is far from complete. Compounding the unknown with the unclear does not chart an easy path to fields of perennial malting barley. Assuming this crop plant can be developed, there will have to be a commensurate shift in supply chain dynamics. Current pricing, quality specifications, and processing parameters will require adjustment. Therefore, achieving the goal of perennial malting barley will require assembling and providing sustained funding to a scientific team with expertise in plant breeding, genetics, agronomy, malting, brewing, and sensory analysis. Long-term support for this scientific team will require a commensurate investment in marketing and economics. Therefore, before launching the quest for perennial malting barley, it is worth considering alternative strategies, including using existing perennial grains in lieu of barley and developing more sustainable cropping systems based on annual barley.

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This seminar was sponsored by:

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