Independent UK plant breeder Elsoms Seeds is joining forces with Saaten Union member Ackermann to establish a new UK barley breeding programme.

The more formal arrangement follows a four year period of co-operation between the two that culminated in the launch of Chanson spring barley which joined the 2017/18 AHDB Recommended List last year. Elsoms has acted as Saaten Union’s UK marketing agent since 2013, the same year it formed Elsoms Wheat with hybrid cereal specialist Saaten Union Recherche and Nordsaat. The latter saw four varieties listed on the AHDB RL last year with a further two candidates.

The Elsoms Ackermann Barley venture will focus on breeding new barleys specifically for the UK malting and feed barley markets, concentrating on disease resistance and yield characteristics. It anticipates Elsoms Ackermann Barley varieties following Ackermann’s own types onto the AHDB RL by 2020. The new company is recruiting a barley breeder, to be based at its Spalding headquarters in Lincolnshire, to lead a dramatic increase in the scale of the barley programme.

Barley specialist Ackermann is one of seven members of the Saaten Union group of German plant breeders. Its barley breeding programme includes 2 row, 6 row, spring, winter, feed, distilling and brewing varieties, and it is part of Saaten Union’s hybrid barley programme. Saaten Union has its own UK plant breeding and trialling station near Newmarket, managed by technical director Dr Richard Jennaway, which carries out varietal screening and R&D work for the partnership.

“By joining forces in barley breeding, we will expand the impressive and comprehensive breeding programme established by Ackermann and focus it on the UK market, utilising the resources of the plant breeding, research and trialling facilities of Elsoms Seeds,” says Elsoms chairman Roger Keeling. “Over the last few years UK farmers, merchants and end users have had an increasingly limited choice of breeding programmes to choose their varieties from. The formation of Elsoms Ackermann Barley will provide the UK market with greater genetic diversity and an improved range of competitive varieties.”

For Ackermann, managing director Alexander Strube comments:  “We have been impressed by the way Elsoms has developed Chanson and other varieties from our fellow members of Saaten Union” said. “We have established a global trialling, production and customer network but realised that to be successful in the UK, we required a strong UK partner and are delighted that Elsoms has agreed to join us in creating a new barley breeding business.”

Adrian Hayler, who heads Elsoms’ agricultural department, adds: “I attended the recent World Barley, Malt and Beer conference as part of the Saaten Union team and was impressed by the excellent reputation Ackermann has established with maltsters, brewers and distillers through their variety portfolio and technical expertise. Our new programme will benefit UK malt exports.”