Planet tick as barley malt crop

Rob and Jen Warburton stand in a field of Planet barley at their Kojonup farm.
Camera IconRob and Jen Warburton stand in a field of Planet barley at their Kojonup farm. Credit: Cally Dupe

Barley growers are raising their glasses to a high-yielding variety which is now malt accredited.

Trials of RGT Planet have reached their third year in WA, after the mid-season flowering variety was released by Seed Force for National Variety Trials and pilots in 2016.

While already accredited for malting in Europe, it reached its earliest potential for accreditation in Australia when approved by Barley Australia this month.

Mobrup farmers Rob and Jen Warburton were impressed with recent 500ha crop of RGT Planet, after first trialling 10ha in 2017.

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They plan to plant their entire 700ha barley program to RGT Planet this year but whether they actively malt will “depend on the premium” on offer.

“We are pretty much going to be all Planet now, this is just great to hear it has gained malt accreditation,” Mr Warburton said. “We chase the five to six tonne mark, which has been pretty achievable.

“If there isn’t much of a premium we won’t chase malt, but we will make sure the protein is up so there is a chance of having malt specifications... whether we cream it will depend.”

Seed Force group managing director Bruce Garett said the company and breeder partner RAGT spent seven years testing and developing the new variety.

Narrogin’s Melchiorre Seeds director Jason Melchiorre was the first to grow RGT Planet in WA, three years ago.

The first year, he sowed at a rate of 40kg/ha and it went 5t/ha.

The next year, it was sown at 80-90t/ha and it went 6.3t/ha.

The third year it was 80-90kg/ha and it went 6t/ha.

He said it was likely the variety would quickly become the “dominant” barley variety in WA.

“Now that it has made malt, I can see it only going forwards,” Mr Melchiorre said.

“With its yield potential, malt status, and disease resistance it really is a economic option for all barley growers.”

Barley Australia said the variety was a high-yielding spring barley with a robust agronomic profile. “It is most suited to producing malt for brewers with a high fermentability and thus will be well matched for many domestic and export markets,” the statement said.

“As with all previous accreditations, the market that will determine the success of this variety.”

Growers are now wondering whether CBH will be able to accommodate RGT Planet malt and feed, come harvest.

A CBH spokeswoman said the company would work closely with Grain Industry Association of WA to “accommodate, wherever possible”, “the range of grain varieties as the market requires”.

“We will again hold consultations, while also analysing crop estimates data, to determine the best segregation options and service requirements for our growers,” she said.

A GIWA spokeswoman said a barley autumn forum would be held on March 22, which would focus on accreditation and rationalisation of RGT Planet.

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