Variety Development

Variety Development

Malting barley varieties are the raw material that powers the malting and brewing industry, and the quality of these varieties has a significant impact on the quality of malt and beer. Malting barley variety development is a complex and time intensive process requiring eight to ten years from first cross to registration of a new variety.

general schematic of the barley breeding and registration process in western canada

Schematic courtesy of Dr. Ana Badea

Cooperative Trial  – Western Cooperative Barley Registration Trial
Collabs  – Collaborative Malting Barley Trial
MAS – Marker Assisted Selection
GS – Genomic Selection
DH – Doubled haploidy
SSD – Single Seed Descent

Working closely with the malting barley supply chain, BMBRI uses its extensive knowledge of malting and brewing quality preferences to help BMBRI members produce first-rate malt barley products for a variety of customers. The core of this effort is variety evaluation.

Selecting top performers for malting quality

Canada’s current system for the registration of new barley varieties is based on merit, and BMBRI plays a significant role in assessing whether candidate barley lines meet critical requirements for malting and brewing.

BMBRI and its member companies are represented on the Prairie Recommending Committee for Oat and Barley (PRCOB) Barley Quality Evaluation Team. The PRCOB makes recommendations to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on which new barley lines should be approved for registration.

Key role in pre-registration testing

PRCOB decisions on malting barley are based on data from Cooperative and BMBRI-coordinated Collaborative tests. BMBRI members participate in the evaluation of malting quality results from Cooperative trials, and BMBRI coordinates all aspects of the Collaborative trials. BMBRI’s variety evaluation effort is led by its Technical Committee, which includes representatives from each BMBRI member, as well as malting barley experts from the value chain.

Post registration trials

BMBRI member companies also perform pre-competitive, post registration plant scale trials on newly registered varieties to determine which have acceptable malting and brewing performance.