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2017 Master Brewers Conference
30. Breeding and developing winter malting barley for the U.S. Midwest

Eric Stockinger, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH, U.S.A.

Malt and Grains I
Friday, October 13
8:00–9:45 a.m.
Imperial Salon B

Ohio and the neighboring Midwestern and Great Lakes regions are ideal environments in which to produce high-quality malting barley for brewing and distilling. Nonmoisture-limiting conditions at planting and during grain fill combined with cooler temperatures during grain fill favor development of grain having low levels of protein and high levels of carbohydrate. Yet, varieties must also meet specifications established by the American Malting Barley Association, brewers, and other end users as well as those of farmers and growers. For farmers and growers in these regions, winter hardiness is of paramount importance, along with lodging, disease resistance, and high yield. For brewers, yield is also important. In the brewhouse yield comes about through the use of varieties having good diastatic power, low β-glucan levels, and low protein. Also of brewing importance are traits for fermentation and end product quality. To develop malting quality barleys adapted to these regions, I initiated a barley breeding program. The first lines tested were those developed by other programs and were planted in test plots in 2008. The following year the first crosses were made. The breeding program utilized a set of winter-hardy two-row lines that were developed in the 1960s and 70s by the University of Missouri barley breeder at the request of Anheuser-Busch, which was seeking winter-hardy two-row malting barleys that could be grown in the U.S. Midwest. While the malting quality of these two-row Missouri (MO) B- lines falls far short of that required by modern standards because of unacceptably high protein and β-glucan levels, the superior winter-hardiness of the two-row MO barley lines was very apparent following the exceptionally cold winter of 2013–2014, which inflicted significant winterkill on most modern two-row winter malting barleys. It is thought that the two-row MO B-lines derive their winter hardiness from the Tennessee Winter types, a diverse group of winter barleys that played a key role in establishing acreage and production of six-row winter feed barley across large parts of North America the first half of the 20th Century. Initial crosses were made between the two-row MO B-lines and small set of modern malting barley varieties. The most promising offspring from the first crosses exhibited 100% survival the 2013–2014 winter, excellent lodging resistance, high yields, and protein levels approaching ideal targets. These will be pilot malted and brewed within 2017. These first offspring lines have also been used in a second round of crosses, crossing them to hundreds of elite modern and heirloom malting barley varieties, including the iconic winter malting barley variety "Maris Otter." Tens of thousands of new lines have been generated and are now in advanced stages of development and testing trials. It is anticipated that many of the lines under development will enable sustainable and long-term cultivation of high-quality winter malting barley in the U.S. Midwest and Great Lakes regions.

Eric Stockinger's research interests and current focus are the development of winter malting barley adapted to Ohio and the neighboring Great Lakes and Midwest state regions and the mechanistic understanding of freezing tolerance and winter hardiness in the Triticeae cereals at the gene and gene regulatory level. His appointments include: undergraduate research assistant of the University of California, Riverside, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences 1984–1986; teaching assistant (genetics) in the UC Riverside Department of Biology in 1986; teaching assistant (molecular biology) in the UC Riverside Department of Biology in 1990; research assistant in the UC Riverside Department of Botany and Plant Sciences 1986–1993; postdoctoral research assistant in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Horticulture 1993–1994; postdoctoral research assistant in the MSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences 1994–2000; and assistant professor in The Ohio State University (OSU) Department of Horticulture and Crop Science 2000–2006. Since 2006, he has served as associate professor of the OSU Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.