Hulless Barley Varieties

An important development influencing the renewed interest in using barley as a food ingredient has been the development of hulless barley varieties. Hulless barley varieties have a weaker attachment of the hull to the seed kernel allowing for the hull to detach when the seed is mature and dry. Hulless barley varieties are better suited for food applications, especially flour production, since hulless barley does not require the removal of the hull prior to milling.

Regular hulled barley
Hulless barley (CDC McGwire)
Barley grain.jpg
CDC McGwire.TIF
(Photo: Gloria Gingera)

As indicated in the table below, there are several hulless varieties registered in Canada suitable for food use.

Variety name*

Breeder

Canadian seed company
(variety rights)

Production (est.)

Grain yield potential per acre**

Starch type (note: 25/75 is typical of regular barley)

Average betaglucan (soluble fibre) level per 100g

CDC McGwire
(2-row)

CDC Saskatoon

SeCan

Limited production (2009)

High

25% amylose
75% amylopectin

4.5-5.0

Millhouse
(2-row)

AAFC Brandon

FP Genetics

Pedigree seed

Medium

25% amylose
75% amylopectin

4.5-5.0

Falcon
(6-row)

Alberta Agriculture & Food, Lacombe

SeCan

<2000 acres

Low

25% amylose
75% amylopectin

4.5-5.0

CDC Rattan
(2-row)

CDC Saskatoon

Canterra Seeds

Pedigree seed

Medium-High

5% amylose
95% amylopectin

6.3-7.8

CDC Fibar
(2-row)

CDC Saskatoon

Canterra Seeds

Limited acres (contracted)

Very Low

0% amylose
100% amylopectin

8.0-10.0

*It should be noted that Falcon was developed primarily as a feed variety, the attraction of the hulless characteristic being high digestibility. CDC McGwire was developed in the knowledge that it would be suitable for both feed and food markets. CDC Rattan and CDC Fibar were developed as food varieties based on their specialty starch characteristics and higher beta glucan (soluble fibre) content. All varieties have potential for use as whole grain ingredients in food products.

** Grain yield is relative to hard red spring wheat (CWRS) rather than regular hulled barley, to compare yield of grain after removal of the hulls. High = up to 25% higher than CWRS: comment on CDC McGwire - personal communication, Dr Brian Rossnagel, CDC Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The overall range of relative yield is CDC McGwire at 100 to CDC Fibar at 75.

Abbreviations: CDC- Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan;
AAFC – Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Acid Extract Viscosity (AEV) variability in different barley types:

In addition to beta glucan, the specialty starch types have a quite distinct AEV, which may be of interest to food manufacturers. Regular starch types have low AEV (e.g. CDC McGwire at 16), while CDC Rattan and CDC Fibar have elevated AEV of >200 and >500 respectively in some years. AEV levels also have been found to be extremely variable, presumably greatly affected by environment – CDC Rattan and CDC Fibar have also recorded levels of <50 and <100 in other years. However, year to year, both CDC Rattan and CDC Fibar have AEV levels many times greater than CDC McGwire.