Spring barley: Firefoxx shoots its way to the top with maltster

Exciting new contenders are lining up to challenge the dominance of the leading varieties that take up a huge proportion of the malting barley market.

One such is Firefoxx, which is an early maturing spring malting barley with high yields, a strong all-around disease package and very low grain skinning. Crucially, it recently received support from Paul Huntley, cereal seeds director at Simpsons Malt.

Mr Huntley, who has followed the variety’s progress closely through trials and grower evaluation reports since spring 2020, believed the variety, bred by Elsoms-Ackermann Barley, has the potential to be a key future variety in the Scottish distilling market.

“Beyond being a very visually attractive barley, Firefoxx has a strong agronomic package that stands up well to the Scottish weather. In the field, our growers found it was earlier to harvest than competitor varieties such as Tungsten, Laureate and Diablo – a valuable trait that becomes more attractive the further north you go.

“Those who grew Firefoxx last year were very pleased with its consistent on-farm performance, achieving very respectable yields, and they have all signed up to grow it again this year. Its overall grain quality is consistently very good – and, in our experience, it has had no issues with screenings or skinning in the last two years.

“Simpsons Malt have been and continue to be, involved with the ongoing macro-scale malting evaluation of Firefoxx, in conjunction with our distilling partners such as Chivas Brothers, Highland Distillers and Dewars. The relative success in the Scottish distilling market of previous varieties, such as KWS Sassy, illustrated that there is a potential niche in the market for a distilling-only variety, one which Firefoxx has the potential to fulfil in the future,” confirmed Mr Huntley.

Endorsing that agronomic assessment of the variety, Arable farmer, Colin McGregor, based near Dunning, in Perthshire, decided to switch all his spring barley area over to Firefoxx for 2022, based on a combination of yield performance and grain quality.

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