Dependable malting barley choices for spring 2023 - Scotland

Spring Barley

In an environment of sky-high costs and increasing uncertainty, why not choose a spring barley variety that can help mitigate some of these risks?

To do so could not be simpler! Pick one with a proven track record of on-farm performance, wide end-user acceptance, and the backing of leading UK spring barley breeders.

At SYNGENTA we are very proud of our long heritage in malting barley breeding. We began our breeding activities back in 1979 under the New Farm Crops banner and since then we have gone from strength to strength developing many very successful spring barley varieties including OPTIC, NFC TIPPLE, QUENCH and more lately, the well-known variety LAUREATE.

LAUREATE – the top pick of the malting varieties


LAUREATE first joined the AHDB Recommended List back in 2016 but continues to be the most popular spring barley grown across the UK and the most popular variety purchased by maltsters.

And it’s easy to see why…







High and stable yield performance

LAUREATE is the highest yielding spring barley variety with full MBC approval for both brewing and malt distilling on the 2023 AHDB Recommended List and has wide end user support.

LAUREATE still demonstrates very competitive yield performance in both treated and untreated conditions, compared to the other fully approved varieties for malt distilling. But LAUREATE also combines this with flexibility for the grower in being able to access both the brew and malt distilling markets.

  Approved use UK treated UK untreated North
LAUREATE Brew & Malt Distilling 103 94 102
LG Diablo Brew & Malt Distilling 101 92 102
Firefoxx Malt Distilling only 103 92 103
KWS Sassy Malt Distilling only 97 89 98

Source: AHDB Recommended List 2023



However, consistency and dependability are very much at the heart of LAUREATE’s success - both in terms of on-farm performance and end-user quality.

Again, in 2022 we saw an excellent performance from LAUREATE, outperforming its 5-year treated mean in AHDB Recommended List trials, this is despite many other varieties underperforming in this difficult season.






Source: AHDB Harvest results 2022

An historical view of UK treated yield performance shows that this is nothing new. Since first entering AHDB Recommended List trials, LAUREATE has maintained a high level of performance despite some of the key competition declining in more recent years.











Source: AHDB Harvest results (archive) 2015-2022 (LG Diablo entered RL trials in 2017)

LAUREATE has also maintained a strong, consistent, untreated yield performance level since first being sown in Recommended List trials in 2015. This is very much underpinned by its robust disease profile with current AHDB ratings including a 9 for mildew, 5 for brown rust and a 6 for Rhynchosporium providing insurance for the grower in the challenging Scottish weather conditions.

Unrivalled quality

From an end-user perspective, LAUREATE is very much the variety of choice, with contracts widely available for 2023. Maltsters purchase more LAUREATE than any another variety across the UK making up 48% of purchases from the harvest 2021 crop demonstrating the wide acceptance of the variety.

  Scotland total tonnes England total tonnes  % of total purchases
LAUREATE 581,727 315,679 48.0%
RGT Planet 0 291,397 15.6%
LG Diablo 124,230 40,362 8.8%
KWS Sassy 142,686 0 7.6%
Fairing 15,274 2,342 0.9%
Others 31,891 67,959 5.3%

Source: MAGB Malting purchases by region from 2021 harvest crop


FAIRING: the variety of choice for grain distilling


Specifically bred by SYNGENTA for the Scottish grain distilling market, FAIRING is certainly the variety to beat!

FAIRING is the only variety with MBC Approval for Grain Distilling and offers growers the innate high grain nitrogen content required to meet contract specifications for this specific market.

But FAIRING goes much, much further.

As most of the grain distilling spring barley is grown in Scotland, having the right agronomic profile in such a variety is key for growers in this region.




With high 8 ratings for both lodging and brackling on the AHDB Recommended List, FAIRING demonstrates its superb stiff straw. Furthermore, its stand out super early maturity is a feature highly desired by growers in the Scottish environment. In fact, no variety comes close when it comes to early maturity. FAIRING is the earliest variety to ripen on the 2023 AHDB Recommended List - the only variety rated as 2 days earlier than RGT Planet.


Ripening (days +/- RGT Planet)

LG Diablo +2
Firefoxx 0
KWS Sassy +1

Source: AHDB Recommended List 2023

However, it doesn’t stop there. When it comes to wet weather disease resistance, FAIRING wins again with the highest Rhynchosporium resistance rating of any variety on the 2023 AHDB Recommended List. No other variety has an 8 rating for Rhynchosporium.











Source: AHDB Recommended List 2023

So why take a chance on another grain distilling variety? 

Grow FAIRING - the only MBC approved grain distilling variety specifically bred to suit the Scottish conditions.

Get ready for SY TENNYSON - the exciting new SYNGENTA spring barley!!


SY TENNYSON was newly added to the 2023 Recommended last autumn and did so in an unrivalled yield and quality position!

With a UK treated yield of 105.2% it becomes the joint highest yielding malting variety and more importantly the highest yielding variety with potential for both the brewing and malt distilling markets. It is also the highest yielding variety in both the North (105.6% CM) and East (106.7% CM) regions of the UK.

SY TENNYSON continues to be tested through the MBC process to gain approval, but we can already see its very promising quality for both the malt distilling and brew markets. With respect to the distilling market, SY TENNYSON has already demonstrated very high Predicted Spirit Yield in testing, which is the key malting parameter desired by distillers. In addition, SY TENNYSON has the highest Hot Water Extract figure available of any variety on the new AHDB Recommended List for the brewing market.

For more information on SY TENNYSON click here.