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New winter barley varieties for Ont.

New winter barley varieties for Ont.

Seed companies are trialling winter barley for registration in the coming years

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

Farmers in Ontario may have some new options for winter cereals in the coming years, as seed companies work to test and register improved winter barley varieties.

“Winter barley has been grown for a long time,” Willie Vanderpol, a market development representative at SeCan in southwestern Ontario, told However, “the winter barley market is not very large and it changes year-to-year in terms of demand, so there’s not been the introduction of new varieties in a long time for those reasons.”

Over the last few years a renewed interest in alternative winter cereals to winter wheat spurred the seed industry into action. A few companies have been running private trials investigating new winter barley varieties since 2018.

“Several companies, including SeCan, (initiated trials) to look at winter barley material from various genetic suppliers, and to determine if there was going to be a fit with these new varieties with producers as an alternative to winter wheat,” Vanderpol explained.

New cereal varieties must go through at least two years of trials overseen by the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee.

“A variety has to demonstrate over a number of years that it has merit in terms of yield and several other attributes depending on which crop type it is,” Vanderpol said. “For winter barley, we need to see demonstrated winter survival as well as yield potential.”

SeCan started registration trials for new winter barley varieties last fall, she added.

The crop “made it through the winter, even with some challenging conditions with freeze-thaw cycles and then having variable conditions in the spring. They made it and they’ve all been harvested and we’re looking at the data now,” Vanderpol said. SeCan staff don’t yet have final results, but the winter survival is promising going into the second year of trials.

If the trials are successful, the varieties will receive support at the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee registration meeting in January 2022. Farmers can expect to be able to purchase seed after that.

“If everything goes according to plan and seed production is being done in tandem with these trials, then we’ll have enough seed to be able to sell to farmers for fall 2022 planting,” Vanderpol explained.

Vanderpol, Ridgetown, June 2020 photo

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