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Barley Variety Trial for Forage Production

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Research Program Manager: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From:Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2018 Annual Report

In order to be able to continue to identify barley varieties that have better forage production for livestock producers in the Peace, PCBFA continues to take part in the Regional Silage Variety Trials (RSVTs). The program includes testing of new barley varieties as they become available for adaption, forage yield and quality. Older barley varieties are always added to the test to enable good comparisons. The annual regional silage variety trial for barley generates and provides scientifically sound barley variety performance information to livestock producers, industry and extension specialists as a basis for comparison of varieties of barley commonly grown in the area along with new ones. In addition to the findings of the barley variety trial from Fairview being presented here, the results from the RSVTs across the different trial sites in the province will also be reported in the Alberta Seed Guide (


The study site was at the Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview. The site had been in alfalfa hay for more than 15 years. The site was sprayed with Roundup and plowed in the fall before. This was later disced and harrowed in the spring before seeding.

Soil tests at 0-6” showed an organic matter of 7.6 %, a pH of 6.9 and an electrical conductivity of 0.2 dS/m.

Fifteen (15) forage type barley varieties were arranged in a randomized complete block design in 4 replications in small plots. The 15 barley varieties tested are listed below:

1. Amisk - 6 row, rough awned, semi-dwarf, general purpose barley

2. SR14501 - A new six-row hulled spring feed and forage barley

3. Canmore - 2 row, rough awned, general purpose barley

4. Altorado- 2-row, feed barley, erect to semi-erect growth habit at tillering

5. CDC Austenson (Check) - 2-row, rough awned, high feed yield

6. CDC Maverick– 2-row, forage variety, smooth awned for improved palatability

7. Claymore- 2-row, semi-erect, feed barley

8. Champion- 2-row, feed barley

9. AC Metcalfe- 2-row, malting barley

10. Sundre- 6 row, smooth-awned, feed barley for grain and forage

11. CDC Coalition- 2-row, feed barley

12. Legacy - 6-row, malting barley

13. Chigwell- 6-row, smooth awned, feed barley

14. Ranger- 6-row, forage/feed barley, smooth awns

15. Conlon- 2-row, feed and malting barley

Seeding was done on May 25th with a 6-row plot drill at 9” row spacing.

Fertility according to soil test recommendations for balanced crop nutrition for average barley production was 147 lb N + 43 lb P + 46 lb K + 16 lb S and applied at seeding.

Roundup was used for burn off. In-crop spraying was done on June 19th with 0.17 L/acre Prestige XC A+ 0.80 L/acre Prestige XC B. Hand weeding was done once on July 4th.

Harvesting for forage yield determination and quality analysis was done on August 10th at the soft dough stage from an area of 1.67 m2. Two composite forage samples were sent to A & L laboratory in Ontario for quality determination.

The data for forage yield and quality were analyzed with ARM statistical software.


Growth and Lodging

CDC Maverick grew tallest, followed by SR14501, Sundre and then AC Metcalf in that order. Conlon barley had the least plant height.

Generally, the crops stood up well and no lodging was observed even for the 4 varieties (CDC Maverick, SR14501, Sundre and AC Metcalf) that grew to 100 cm and above.

Forage Yield

The forage dry matter (DM) yield was significantly affected by barley varieties tested. The highest forage yield came from Amisk (8154 lbs/acre), followed by SR14501 (7792 lbs/acre) and then Canmore (Figure 1). Conlon produced the least amount of forage (5589 lbs/acre). Only Amisk and SR14501 had significantly higher forage yield than check (CDC Austenson) with 670-1032 lbs/acre more forage yield. Only 5 of the 15 varieties had 7000 lbs/acre DM yield or greater. The remaining varieties had less than 7000 lbs/acre DM yield.

SR14501 is a newly developed 6-row hulled spring feed and forage barley variety that should soon be in producers’fields. According to the breeder, Dr. Joseph Nyachiro of Alberta’s Field Crop Development Centre, SR14501 is a very well rounded variety. It has excellent grain yield and can be used for making silage or green feed, and it can be used for swath grazing. At the Fairview Research Farm, in addition to the higher forage DM yield that was obtained for SR14501, it also visually showed some great potential for the area.

Forage Quality

The statistical analysis showed that of the various forage quality parameters measured, only forage crude protein (CP), and phosphorus (P) were affected by varieties tested. Other parameters were not influenced by barley varieties.

For the forage CP that differed between varieties, Conlon barley had the highest forage CP, while CDC Maverick, Sundre and Legacy had lowest forage CP values (Table 1). With the exception of CDC Maverick, Sundre and Legacy, the varieties tested had sufficient forage CP for a mature beef cow all the way through to the nursing stage (11% CP). On the other hand, CDC Maverick, Sundre and Legacy were only able to sufficiently meet the CP requirement of a dry gestating cow in mid-pregnancy (7% CP) and late pregnancy (9% CP).

The forage P was highest for Claymore (0.26% P), , followed by Altorado, CDC Austenson, CDC Coalition and Conlon each with 0.25% P (Table 2). Sundre had far lower forage P value than other varieties. Overall, only Claymore had adequate P for a mature beef cow. Apart from CDC Maverick, Sundre and Legacy which were short of meting what a dry gestating beef cow needs in terms of P from mid to late pregnancy , other varieties had sufficient P for a dry gestating beef cow.

The forage energy content of the varieties as determined by total digestible nutrients (TDN) was mostly adequate for a mature beef cow.

Of the 15 varieties tested here, only Claymore (2-row, semi-erect, feed barley) and Conlon seemed to have been able to meet most of the macro and trace (except for Cu) mineral requirements of a mature beef cow (Table 2). None of the varieties had sufficient Cu for a mature beef cow.

Because of the inability of the varieties to completely meet the mineral requirements of a mature beef cow, some form of mineral supplementation to address the short fall will be need when feeding these varieties.


With the inclusion of a newly developed barley variety “SR14501” in the present trial, and based on its forage yield potential in the trial, it is evident that selection of annual crop varieties which produce better forage yield and/or nutritional quality becomes increasingly important. This shows that the regional silage variety trial on barley has continued to provide information on the performance of forage type barley for the PC region. SR14501 is a 6-row hulled spring feed and forage barley variety that will be available in the next year or two. It did very well in the present trial and it looked very impressive as well visually. Producers are already looking forward to its availability soon as it has excellent grain yield and can be used for making silage or green feed, and it can be used for swath grazing. Amisk, SR14501 and Canmore produced higher forage

DM yield than other varieties including check (CDC Austenson). In most cases, the varieties had sufficient protein and energy for a mature beef cow. The varieties were all short of meeting the Cu requirements of all categories of beef cow.


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