Scientists from the International Barley Hub have discovered a genetic
pathway to improved barley grain size and uniformity. Researchers at the
James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee's Division of Plant
Sciences examined the genetic control of grain formation in barley and found
that a mutation in the gene called VRS3 improved grain uniformity in
Colin West, chairman of the International Barley Hub said that uniformity is
very important in grain processing after harvest to produce higher quality
malt. This discovery has huge potential to both growers and industry as
maltsters have always had problems with six-row varieties to deliver malt to
customer specification because of variation in grain size around the ear.
He added that a more uniform size distribution leads to more consistent
water uptake during steeping, a more even modification of corns during
germination, and similarly more consistent drying and color formation in the
kilning process. All these changes help to produce higher quality malt which
is more suited to controlled milling in breweries and distilleries.