Autumn 2023

Skyway spring barley set for take-off

Skyway, the high-yielding spring barley with full approval for brewing, is on course to become one of the most popular varieties of 2024 after impressing growers over the past two seasons.

Demonstrating a combination of yield and agronomic characteristics that puts it ahead of both RGT Planet and Laurette (see table), it has performed strongly across regions and soil types. As the joint-highest yielding variety on the AHDB Recommended List for 2023, Skyway is an excellent choice for brewing or feed growers.

Grower feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and this confirms the work of the R&D team at Throws Farm which first identified Skyway as a variety of promise. This promising performance gave Agrii the confidence to expand the certified seed area putting it on course to be the second biggest variety in the UK behind Laureate. We expect it to become the most popular spring barley across the UK in the coming years.

With Skyway set to become a mainstay variety, there are other contenders coming through from breeders that ensure a broad choice of varieties for growers and end-users. Our breeding partner Secobra has two varieties, Diviner for malt distilling and Sun King for brewing, with provisional approval and a further two varieties, Belter for brewing and malt distilling, and Rocker for brewing, entering the evaluation process this year with provisional approval expected in 2024.

Freya Morgan

Bedfordshire grower, Freya Morgan of MW & PW Ward had 90 hectares of Skyway on a buyback with Viterra alongside another 90 ha of Laureate for harvest 2021 and was impressed with how the former performed. “Our Skyway sample was very nice with big bold grains looking more like wheat than barley,” Ms Morgan says. “ We harvested it ripe, but the straw was noticeably lighter than we’re used to and much fluffier in the rows behind the combine – again more like wheat.

“The Skyway made the malting spec with nitrogen contents ranging from 1.48% to 1.66%. Unlike many 2021 crops, though, the bushel weights held up well at 63.2-64.0kg/hl and the 2.25 mm screenings were down to 0.74%.

Skyway versus Laureate and RGT PlanetSkywayLaureateRGT Planet
Treated yield (% of controls)10510398
Untreated yield (% of controls)949489
Specific weight (kg/hl)69.467.268.8
Grain nitrogen (%)1.541.521.54
Screenings (% through 2.25 mm)
Lodging resistance (without PGR)767
Brackling resistance788
Mildew resistance998
Brown rust resistance455
Rhynchosporium resistance776
Source: AHDB Recommended List, 2023

“It looks to be the reliable, easy-to-manage spring barley we’ve been wanting for a while now. And quicker, hassle-free combining is just what we need to make sure we also get our Group 2 and 4 wheats off for the best possible local premiums despite the increasingly challenging harvesting weather we seem to be getting these days,” Ms Morgan says.

“Skyway is a reliable, easy-to-manage spring barley”, says Freya Morgan