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Originally published April 22 2005

Virginia Tech creates a new hulless winter barley that provides plenty of protein

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

In an effort to create a profitable winter barley, Virginia Tech has created a new hulless barley that is high in protein and starch content while providing less fiber. The barley is designed to be used for food, animal feed, or it can be used to produce ethanol.

This new form of barley is designed to reverse the trend of falling prices for winter barley. After all, winter barley was a staple crop of the region, but declining profits forced farmers to look elsewhere. Thus, Virginia Tech created the Small Grains Breeding Program to allow farmers to return to their normal crop cycle while staying in the black.

-- Virginia Tech's Small Grains Breeding Program is developing a new type of barley that lacks the fibrous covering. This new hulless barley offers producers an alternative grain for both traditional and new markets, including food, feed, and ethanol. The price for winter barley has declined since 1996. Even though winter barley was an integral component of the region's cropping system, growers stopped producing it because it was not profitable. The Small Grains Breeding Program work is aimed at reversing this trend. "Traditional hulled barley cultivars that have higher starch and energy content, therefore, better feed quality, such as cultivars named 'Thoroughbred' and 'Price,' have recently been released by Virginia Tech," said Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental science at Virginia Tech. "Similar to wheat in appearance, ulless barley is significantly higher in starch content and significantly lower in fiber than traditional hulled barley," he said. The breeding program is developing both traditional soft red winter wheat cultivars and new cultivars with unique and high-value end-use characteristics such as higher protein content, quality, and white seed color. The Virginia Tech wheat cultivars "Tribute" and "Renwood 3260" have a unique protein quality, making them suited for specialty products. Another of the projects aims to develop wheat and barley cultivars resistant to pests and so require fewer chemical inputs. For example, producers would obtain higher yields of a safer and higher quality grain that is resistant to Fusarium head blight, commonly referred to as scab. Scab problems have occurred on an annual basis during the past decade, and severe epidemics nearly devastated the crop in Virginia during 1998 and 2003. Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here. This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Virginia Tech.

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