Barley Variety Summary in the Mallee, Wimmera and North Central NVT

By BCG Staff and Contributors

Take Home Messages

  • In 2022, Combat, Minotaur, Rosalind, RGT Planet and Cyclops all yielded higher than the region mean in the Mallee.
  • Leabrook, Compass, RGT Planet and La Trobe have been consistent yielders over the past five years (2017–2021).
  • Combat and Zena yielded very well in the North Central region.
  • In the North Central region, RGT Planet, Rosalind, Fathom, Leabrook and La Trobe have been consistent performers over the past five years.
  • RGT Planet, Combat, Minotaur, Leabrook, Rosalind have been consistent performers over the last six years in the Wimmera.


To compare the performance of new and existing barley varieties in the Mallee, Wimmera and North Central NVT. 


The start to the 2022 season was ideal for sowing, with all regions receiving welcome rains in April, providing a timely Anzac day break. This allowed for all trials to be sown into moisture. Good growing temperatures saw crops bounce out of the ground. June and July were decile 4 and 5 for many areas.

In spring, the forecast La Nina came through, with heavy rain that continued and by October some paddocks were under water because of flooding.

Having access to National Variety Trial (NVT) results that highlight new varieties being released is a great way to see how they perform given their different attributes, such as maturity, and compare them to existing varieties. Maturity length of varieties can be one determining factor in selecting varieties — along with quality, lodging and herbicide tolerance — as it is a good idea to have varied maturity length to ensure flexibility of sowing time if growing multiple varieties across your farm.

Trial Details & Inputs

Crop type: Barley
Target plant density: 130 plants/m²
Seeding equipment: Knife points, press wheels, 30cm row spacing
Nutrition, weeds, insects and disease were managed as per best practice


This research was conducted through the NVT program delivered by GRDC. The NVT program involves a series of replicated field trials that test varieties across 10 crop types. The data displayed in this article is a combination of NVT results, individual site reports and multi-environment trial analysis (MET) long term summaries. The MET analysis should be used by growers when comparing varieties as it encompasses more data over multiple seasons and is therefore more reliable. Both the MET analyses and single site summaries can be found at Grain yield data is represented as a percentage of the site mean for the past five years, which shows how a variety has performed in each season compared with the region’s overall mean yield.

Results & Interpretation

New varieties released in 2022

Combat, bred by Intergrain, is a mid-maturing non-malting variety, with a semi-prostrate growth habit, providing more weed competition than Rosalind combined with a good disease package, (MR for SFNB and NFNB). 2023 will be the first commercial year.

Zena CL is a mid-maturing Clearfield® variety suited to medium to high-rainfall environments. It is closely related to RGT Planet, containing similar agronomic characteristics with the addition of herbicide tolerance, and is currently undergoing malting accreditation. Bred by GIA and Intergrain and is available from Intergrain.

Titan AX is a CoAXium® barley with tolerance to Group 1 herbicide (Agressor®) that is suited to low to medium rainfall environments. It is bred and marketed by AGT and is derived from Compass, with similar maturity to RGT Planet.

More information on these and other varieties can be found in the Agriculture Victoria 2023 Victorian sowing guide

Yield results

Spring conditions led to lodging and brackling in many growers’ barley crops which also caused issues at harvest. Quality was varied, with low test weights causing lower grades. This harvest (22/23) there was a difference of $100–$120 per tonne between Malt and feed (BAR1) barley, compared to other years when the difference has only been a couple of dollars.

Yield results in the Mallee ranged from 4.7t/ha to 6.9t/ha and in the North Central the average site yields were 6.5t/ha and 7.4t/ha (Table 2). Combat and RGT Planet were above the site mean at each of the Mallee and North Central sites in 2022.

Combat yielded above the site mean at all sites in the Mallee and North Central regions. 2022 was the first year Combat was grown in Mallee NVT, after being included in the North Central region in 2021 (Figure 1).

Minotaur, RGT Planet and Rosalind (seven out of eight sites) also yielded above the site mean in the Mallee and North Central region trials. These varieties all have different maturity groups, indicating that in a wet, mild spring such as that experienced in 2022, maturity did not play a large part in grain yield.

In 2022 we saw commonly grown varieties such as Compass and Spartacus CL perform worse than usual, however the unusual seasonal conditions such as the wet spring highlights they are more suited to typical Mallee conditions. On occasions, some varieties were the reverse of what we would typically see, confirming their suitability to drier springs.

Cyclops, which has been in NVT for three years, performed well in 2022 and is a quick maturing variety suited to low to medium rainfall environments. It would certainly be one to watch, with malt accreditation targeted for 2024. Growing this in combination with a wheat variety that has high CCN tolerance, would be advantageous as Cyclops is rated S for CCN.

Titan AX® is at the top of the graph, but has only been in NVT for one year (2022), so wait and see how it performs in NVT in future years before adoption. Keep in mind follow up weed control, given that Group 1 herbicides will not be an option for volunteers. However, in weedy situations it could be a useful weed management tool. 

In the North Central there are two barley NVT sites and over the past five years RGT Planet, Rosalind, Fathom, Leabrook and La Trobe have all been consistent performers (Figure 2). RGT Planet was also a top performer in 2022 in the North Central, highlighting its suitability to the wet spring. Combat and Zena CL, while only in NVT for two seasons, are noteworthy as they have yielded well in both years. Titan AX® has not performed as well in the North Central region (in two years) so possibly consider it more for a typical Mallee environment.

In 2022, RGT Planet, Combat, Zena CL, Minotaaur, Bottler and Cyclops all yielded higher than the region mean (Figure 3). Varieties that typically performed well in the Wimmera were a little bit lower in 2022 partly due to the wet season; these include Compass, La Trobe and Commander. For weed mangement, Titan AX® is worthy of consideration as it has performed well in the long-term data and has the tolerance to Group 1 herbicides. When selecting any of these varieties consider their disease ratings and maturity group as to their suitability to your farming rotation. Compass suits a later sowing window whereas RGT Planet suits a longer season which is why it was able to capitalise on the longer growing season experienced in 2022.

Disease ratings of newly available varieties have been released and, of the three new varieties, Combat has a good disease package but will need to be managed for CCN (Table 3). Zena CL is similar to RGT Planet, with Clearfield tolerance and is S for SFNB, so this would need to be managed. Titan AX® has the added bonus of being R (provisional rating) for CCN, making it an option in paddocks where CCN is a problem.

Commercial Practice and On Farm Profitability

New varieties are continuing to be released each year, which is fantastic for growers, but can cause decision making paralysis each year. Looking at the NVT results is a great way to identify if you are growing the best variety for your region and allows you to keep up to date with breeding advancements.

It is worthwhile considering your disease profile, how often crops are subject to certain diseases, and the frequency at which you achieve malt barley when selecting a variety. New varieties can take a couple of years before malt grading status is achieved. If you produce mostly feed barley, choose the highest yielding variety regardless of its quality characteristics.

In 2022, the difference between malt and feed barley was about $100–$120 per tonne at the beginning of harvest. This can equate to a $400/ha difference across your farm. Consider the yield advantage between feed varieties and i the likelihood of achieving malt.

Barley sets its yield potential early and, in a wet spring, is often unable to further push final grain yield. As a result, sowing dates are important and barley should not be sown too early when it can miss yield potential in a wet spring. Think about your mixture of wheat and barley, if you have a preference for producing one over the other, and where you tend to make more in your gross margins.

Combat, Minotaur and Titan AX® are certainly worth considering in the future. But in 2023 don’t base your variety decisions on 2022 alone — it is even more important to consider long-term data.


Victorian Crop Sowing Guide, 2023, Agriculture Victoria,

GRDC National Variety Trials yield data, 2022,


This research was funded by the GRDC as part of the ‘National Variety Trials’ project (BWD00029). This summary has been funded by BCG members through their membership.

We thank all of the NVT site hosts for hosting the trials in 2022

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