Documenting Nutrient Accumulation Rates in Four Barley Varieties


22 May 2017

2016 Annual Interpretive Summary

Barley is a cereal grain grown for animal feed, human food, and malting purposes where varieties have been developed to meet the specific goals associated with each use. In addition, malting variety breeding goals now exist for all-malt and adjunct brewing purposes due to increases in demand from the craft brewing industry in the United States. Grain yield, quality, and nutrient composition also play an important role for each of these end-use goals when production and nutrient management decisions are made.

A study was conducted in 2015 and 2016 investigating varietal selection effects on grain yield, quality, and grain nutrient composition under irrigated conditions in southern Idaho for two-row barley varieties. Two-row adjunct and feed varieties produced the highest yields compared to the all-malt and food varieties. Specific quality and nutrient concentrations [i.e., protein, β-glucan, test weight, phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), and manganese (Mn)] were greater from the food variety than the malt or feed varieties. Variations in nutrient composition were measured among the adjunct and all-malt varieties that could affect malting and brewing qualities. In addition, net removal of Mg, S, Fe, Zn, and Cu were greatest from the food variety despite lower yields. Thus, grain yield, quality, and nutrient concentrations and removal varied among barley varieties grown under identical environmental conditions that may influence end-use goals. Higher nutrient concentrations in barley grain could prove important if the end-use goal is for human consumption (especially Zn and Fe). However, if the yield gap between food and other barley varieties is reduced, it will be necessary to reevaluate nutrient accumulation to determine if increased grain yield results in significant changes in the nutrient profile of the final grain.

The seasonal pattern of plant nutrient uptake by the different barley varieties was also measured and will be reported next year when the data analysis is complete.