High-starch barley variety developed at NDSU

By | May 01, 2006
North Dakota State University (NDSU) researchers have developed a two-rowed barley that, among other characteristics, could prove to be a possible candidate for an ethanol feedstock. According to Dale Williams, director of the university's North Dakota Foundation Feedstocks Program, the Rawson barley variety is fairly disease-resistant, performs well with limited rainfall and has a high starch content.

"It has been tested for agronomic performance, but to my knowledge, it hasn't been tested specifically for desirability for ethanol production," he said. "It does have some traits that would tend to that possibility though."

The high starch content is, of course, what could catch the attention of those in the ethanol field. Rawson also shows a yield increase with a 15 percent to 20 percent larger grain than Conlon, the most recent two-row barley released from NDSU.

There has been some interest in barley for ethanol production in Oklahoma, as well. D. L. Jones, coordinator of production operations at Oklahoma Foundation Feedstocks at Oklahoma State University, plans to conduct yield trials this season on 13 Minnesota and North Dakota varieties of spring barley, including Rawson. The organization has been conducting yield trials on hulless barley varieties from Virginia for three years. After a year of yield trials, ethanol extraction tests will be conducted to determine starch content on the varieties that adapt best to the region. The goal is to identify spring barley that grows well in Oklahoma and works well as a feedstock for ethanol production. "We really don't have much corn in this area, so they are looking at hulless barley, or barley and sorghum," Jones said said.

Rawson is a new release from NDSU, and all seed has been distributed for 2006, Williams said. The seed will be planted to produce more seed for general distribution in 2007. For more information, contact Williams at (701) 231-8140.