InterGrain’s new imi-tolerant barley variety ‘Neo’ could pump $45 million into industry per year

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Cally DupeCountryman
InterGrain barley breeder David Moody and InterGrain chair Karlie Mucjanko with the company's new barley variety Neo.
Camera IconInterGrain barley breeder David Moody and InterGrain chair Karlie Mucjanko with the company's new barley variety Neo. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

What may have been the most enthusiastic speech ever delivered on the topic of plant breeding in history has heralded the launch of a new barley variety by InterGrain, called Neo — meaning “new” but nicknamed “The One”.

Barley breeder David Moody had crowds both enthralled and entertained when he spoke passionately about the record-breaking journey of developing and commercialising variety at a launch in Perth this month.

Labelled an “unrivalled” high-yielding imidazolinone (or imi) tolerant variety, Neo has also been promoted for its yield potential, disease resistance and “extremely promising” malt quality.

Dr Moody heralded it as a “game-changer” for farmers in high-rainfall production zones, saying it offered a step-change with 10 per cent higher yields than existing variety RGT Planet.

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His wife and staff at InterGrain quickly nicknamed it “The One”, once its exceptional potential and qualities became clear.

As one of several imi-tolerant barley varieties on the market, he said it was a “more weed competitive” plant type to other imi-tolerant varieties including Spartacus CL and Maximus CL.

“Neo is an extraordinary variety we are proud to provide to growers, maltsters and brewers,” Mr Moody said.

“Neo is a once-in-a-lifetime find in a breeding program that evaluates tens of thousands of lines annually.

“As a result, we have fast-tracked the breeding process to get this exceptional variety out to growers as quickly as possible.”

Mr Moody said the variety — formally known by its breeding code IGB22102T — possessed a unique combination of traits and quickly became known as “The One” among InterGrain staff as excitement grew.

It was fast-tracked from a cross to commercial seed in five years — a record for WA and likely across Australia.

Comparatively, InterGrain’s popular imi-tolerant barley variety Maximus CL took eight years from cross to release and prior to InterGrain’s inception, variety development routinely took more than 10 years.

“The speed of breeding, and the anticipated impact of Neo demonstrates how modern breeding technologies can impact so positively on both grower productivity and the economic growth of the agricultural sector,” Mr Moody said.

InterGrain chief executive Tress Walmsley said the variety would meet the needs of both growers and the supply chain, with early indications that it would be a successful malt variety.

She said the anticipated “scale of adoption of Neo” would boost the value of the barley industry by more than $45 million per year.

“We are confident it will be a game-changer for growers, in terms of yield, disease and quality, with indicative micro malting quality attributes suggesting it will be very popular with domestic and international maltsters,” Ms Walmsley said.

Neo has been accepted into Grains Australia’s malting accreditation program, and could pass its final accreditation as soon as March 2025.

Ms Walmsley said large-scale commercial seed production was under way across the nation, and interested farmers would touch base with SeedClub members or resellers for planting next year.

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