Developing a new and improved malting barley variety takes a minimum of 10-12 years from the time the first genetic cross occurs. The chart below illustrates the average time this process requires. The various phases can take longer, and many varieties never make it to the coveted status of AMBA recommended malting barley variety.

Minimum of 10-12 years to develop a new malting barley variety
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Yield Trials Pilot
Plant Scale Trials

What is AMBA?

New variety development is conducted by industry experts and is a cooperative effort between the breeding programs and the malting and brewing industries.

All of the steps outlined here are conducted under the close scrutiny and guidance of the American Malting Barley Association—a brewing and malting trade group. AMBA provides core funding for public malting barley breeding programs, malting barley research programs at local universities, and lobby of the federal government for continued funding for malting barley research and improvements.

Yield Trials

Each year hundreds of new crosses are made to incorporate improvements in agronomics, disease resistance, and malting quality/brewhouse performance/flavor. Multiple years of laboratory, seed nursery, and multiple location yield trials are conducted before a new variety first gets to the pilot malting stage in about year six.

Pilot Malting & Seed Increases

If it successfully passes a two-year pilot malting stage, the new variety is then sent to growers for seed increases in year eight for growth in year nine.

Plant Scale Trials

In year 10 seed increases are harvested and the variety is grown for first-year plant scale testing at a malthouse. That’s followed by brewing trials. After the brewing trials the new variety can be placed on the AMBA recommended list, sent back for second-year plant scale trials, or rejected. In years 11 and 12 varieties sent back for additional plant scale trials, may undergo two more years of plant scale malting and brewing trials before being recommended or rejected.