First public-private varietal breeding by UB Group-DWR

Harish Damodaran

Indigenous strength

DWRUB-52 is

a two-row barley that yields of 4.5 tonnes per hectare.

It scores

over DWR-28 in quality parameters.

Karnal, Sept. 12

In what could be the first major product of public-private varietal breeding in the country, the UB Group and the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR) here have jointly developed a malt barley variety, DWRUB-52, suited for brewing.

"This variety has been identified for release and will be put up before the Central Varietal Release Committee (CVRC) in its next October-end meeting. Once the CVRC certifies it, we can undertake seed multiplication in the coming planting season from November to enable commercial cultivation the following season", said Dr R.P.S. Verma, Senior Scientist at DWR.

For breweries

"They wanted a good malt variety suitable for contract farming to feed their breweries. DWRUB-52 is the result of a five-year contract research project, in which they put in Rs 25 lakh. Under its terms, seed multiplication can be undertaken only by the two of us", he added. The basic breeding and trial evaluation of the variety were carried out at the DWR's fields and the UB Group's research farm at Patiala.

Malt production

The country annually produces 1.3 million-1.5 million tonnes of barley, of which only a fifth is made into malt and the rest goes as feed and fodder.

Malt production involves soaking the grain in water and allowing it to germinate at controlled temperatures of 17-18 degrees, so as to convert the starch in the endosperm into sugar (maltose). The germinated grain is then kiln-dried and the resultant malt can be fermented into alcohol by adding yeast.

Indigenous `two-row'

Much of the domestically grown barley consists of `six-row' varieties, in which the spikes (ear-head) of each plant have six vertical grain-bearing rows. This is as against European `two-row' varieties, which have only two vertical rows that offer more space for grain development. As a result, the grains are bolder, uniform and have lower husk and more endosperm content. That makes them better suited for malting.

In the recent years, there have been attempts to introduce `two-row' barley varieties imported from Argentina (ALFA-93) and Australia (BCU-73).

Further, the first indigenous `two-row' barley, DWR-28, was released in 2002. But all of them suffered from lower yields against the domestic `six-row' feed-grade barleys.

"DWRUB-52 is a two-row barley that yields of 4.5 tonnes per hectare. This is higher than the 4.1 tonnes for DWR-28 and 4.3 tonnes for K-551, a high-yielding six-row variety. It also scores over DWR-28 in quality parameters such as lower husk and grain protein content, and higher malt friability", Dr Verma claimed.

The UB Group's barley contract farming now covers some 5,000 acres in Punjab and northern Rajasthan. The varieties being cultivated include DRW-28 and VJM-201. DWRUB-52's introduction may give a further fillip to the programme.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 13, 2006)
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