OSU creates new barley varieties for food, beer and forage

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Barley is harvested at OSU's test plots in Pendleton. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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Varieties are evaluated for yield, disease resistance, cold tolerance and baking quality

Oregon State University is developing new varieties of barley to help farmers diversify their crops and cash in on a growing interest in microbrews and whole-grain diets. It released 12 new varieties between 1993 and 2012.

Researchers are also trying to identify genes that allow barley to withstand low temperatures, resist disease and survive with little water and nitrogen. They’re also looking for genes responsible for malting quality, nutritional properties and flowering time.

Additionally, OSU is testing how its new cultivars hold up in the kitchen by developing new products with them like tortillas, pretzels, baguettes, pita breads, sourdoughs and focaccia.

Barley was the world’s fourth most-produced cereal in terms of volume in 2010. Oregon's farmers produced $24 million of it in 2012.

Sources: OSU barley breeder Pat Hayes; U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization; USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

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