Barley genome breakthrough may lead to better beer

London/Reuters – An international consortium of scientists has published a high resolution draft of the barley genome in a move that could not only improve yields and disease resistance, but may also hold the key to better beer.

“This research will streamline efforts to improve barley production through breeding for improved varieties,” said Prof. Robbie Waugh, of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute, who led the research.

“This could be varieties better able to withstand pests and disease, deal with adverse environmental conditions, or even provide grain better suited for beer and brewing.”

Barley is the world’s fourth most important cereal crop, trailing only maize, rice and wheat. Its genome is almost twice the size of that of humans.

“It will accelerate research in barley, and its close relative, wheat,” Waugh said.

“Armed with this information, breeders and scientists will be much better placed to deal with the challenge of effectively addressing the food security agenda under the constraints of a rapidly changing environment.”

Potash Corporation to temporarily idle mines

reuters / Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the world’s largest producer of its namesake soil nutrient, said it will shut down two of its mines for eight weeks to match supply to demand.

The company’s biggest mine, at Lanigan, Sask., will close between Nov. 18 and Jan. 12, while the Rocanville, Sask. mine will be shut from Dec. 2 to Jan. 26.

U.K. wheat yields lowest in a quarter-century

london / reuters / Wheat yields in Britain this year have been the lowest since the late 1980s.

The National Farmers Union estimates the U.K. wheat harvest at 13.25 million tonnes, with a yield of 6.7 tonnes per hectare, down from the five-year averages of 14.92 million and 7.8 tonnes respectively.

“This is something not seen in the U.K. since the late 1980s,” said NFU crops adviser Guy Gagen.

High levels of disease and a lack of sunshine during the key grain fill period are being blamed for the drop.

The NFU forecast the U.K. rapeseed crop would total 2.8 million tonnes, 25 per cent higher than the five-year average.



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