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OSU hooded winter barley gets high marks

"If I were a cow, I’d want to be eating some of this stuff.”

So says Oregon State University’s Pat Hayes, a barley breeder touting a new variety release he says is an “excellent” forage crop.

“This is worthwhile for growers to try throughout the West,” he says of Verdant, the first hooded barley from OSU, which produces high yields of forage, thrives in the Northwest and resists stripe rust. And survival in colder states looks promising, he notes. “This has been bred in and survives in the winters of eastern Washington, so there appears to be sufficient winterhardiness for a fall-planted crop.”

Key Points

Verdant is a new forage barley release from Oregon.

While tested only in the PNW, it may do well in other parts of the West.

The hooded variety is resistant to stripe rust.


Trial planting is recommended outside of the Pacific Northwest, where tests were conducted.

Heavy quantities of foliar material lend credibility to Verdant as a good forage crop, he says. And since the variety is hooded, there are no awns to irritate livestock dining on the feed. It is best suited for livestock forage because of “abundant leafy matter,” Hayes notes.

In field tests, Verdant produced a high of 10 tons of forage an acre, and yielded a maximum of 2.7 tons of grain on each acre, he reports. No single hooded winter variety before Verdant could offer the yields, survivability and stripe rust combo in a single package, he says.

While Verdant is “most likely to succeed in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and in the PNW’s Palouse and Columbia Basin,” according to Hayes, growers in other parts of the West are urged to try it out.

Maintained by OSU as a proprietary variety, which enhances research funding via royalties, Verdant marketing has been leased to Tri-State Seed Co. of Connell, Wash. For information, go to the company website at www.tcgrain.com, or call 509-545-0900.

Family background

Verdant’s parents — Kold and Hoody winter barley cultivars — offer some strong characteristics to the new offspring, explains Hayes. “Hoody is the only hooded winter barley that can grow in the PNW, but it is susceptible to stripe rust.” That’s a red flag for Hoody in Western-most reaches of the PNW, he says. “If you want to raise barley on the West side [Pacific Coast region], you have to have stripe rust resistance if you want to get a crop.”

While Verdant will show a touch of stripe rust, “it goes away quickly,” says Hayes. Kold, the other Verdant cultivar parent, resists stripe rust, but has its own shortfall: lower yields of grain and forage. “Compared with Hoody, Verdant not only produces more grain and forage, but has heavier kernels,” says Hayes.

Verdant’s commercial debut this fall has been a decade in the making. Field trials funded by the Oregon Grains Commission 10 years ago kicked off the quest for a hooded, high-yielding forage barley near OSU’s Corvallis campus.

Subsequent years of testing led to experiments in Washington, Idaho and northern California.

While appealing to growers in many states, Verdant was forged largely by OSU breeders to develop the state’s diminutive barley industry, which yields only $8.4 million annually in crop value.

“It’s a crop industry that is small and declining,” says Hayes, who believes Oregon’s 106-entity microbrewing industry offers hope for a major malting barley development in the state.

In the meanwhile, the newest OSU barley, Verdant, spotlights bovine rather than the brew.

This article published in the May, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.