Special barley developed by USU headed for Ethiopia

Utah State University researchers have developed two varieties of barley being distributed in Ethiopia to combat famine and help improve economic conditions. Stan Young is a seed certification specialist at the Utah Ag Experiment Station at USU. He said with these varieties growers will be able to get an adequate harvest even in poor conditions and with little or no fertilizer or pest control. “These two barley varieties were developed by the small grains breeding program here in the department of plants, soils and climate. The first variety, Walker, is probably 15 years old and was developed by Dr. Rulon Albrechtson. It was released because it can stand up to a windstorm and because it has very good kernel plumpness, or what they call test weight. So it worked quite well when there was limited water and would still give a fairly nice plump kernel. “The second variety, Aquila, was developed by Dr. Dominique Roche and is more recent – about five years ago – and was also released because of its very plump kernel. It’s not used very much by farmers in Utah because under irrigated conditions it doesn’t yield as well as some of the other barley varieties.” Morrell Agriculture Systems is a charitable organization, which is trying to do economic agriculture development in Ethiopia. Evan Maxfield, agronomist for Morrell, wanted to know of some barley varieties he could try in that country so he approached young. “In plots he has planted in Ethiopia the last year or two,” said Young, “they’ve shown they do perform, even though they were developed for a much different climate here in northern Utah and southern Idaho. They will have limited water available over there but these two varieties appear they will facilitate the attempts there to increase grain crops for both human and animal consumption.” The barley crop will be used to support the creation of a 300-cow dairy, which USU students helped design and plan.

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