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Great news for Scottish distilling industry as Firefoxx secures full approval for malt distilling

Firefoxx, a high-yielding spring malting barley with early maturity, bred by Elsoms-Ackermann Barley, has received full approval for malt distilling use by the Malting Barley Committee (MBC) confirms Paul Taylor, Head of Agriculture at Elsoms Seeds.

Mr Taylor says: “This is fantastic news for both growers and the distilling market. For malt distillers, its low screening levels and key trait of being less prone to skinning than its competitors are a big plus”.

Endorsing Mr Taylor’s assessment of the variety, grower Claire Rhind, of Newton of Struthers, near Kinloss in Morayshire, annually grows 750ha of malting barley. Claire says: “Working closely alongside my husband Graeme and his parents, with advice from Frontier agronomist Billy MacKenzie, we’ve been growing Firefoxx for three seasons now, and it has proved to be a consistently high yielder on both heavy and light land, averaging 0.5T/ha ahead of competitor varieties Laureate and Diablo.

“Drilled on April 1st, the crop established quickly, competing well against our main weed burden of pansies, speedwell, chickweed and annual meadow-grass. To help the crop get off to a good start we’ve been trialling Newton, a bio-stimulant seed treatment, that helps to boost growth in the crops root structure. It also helps increase the crops resilience to drought in lighter soils which proved extremely useful this year – given the hot, dry conditions.

“With such a short growing season we prefer to go with just two main sprays, combining our post-emergence weed control and T1 fungicide in the same tank mix. After the T1 on May 23rd, we applied our T2 spray of fluxapyroxad + pyraclostrobin with some magnesium on June 16th, primarily for control of Ramularia and Rhynchosporium. Although the extended dry spell through June, July and early August was a concern, the Firefoxx crop coped extremely well, so we didn’t need to supplement with manganese or any additional foliar feeds.

“Harvesting on August 12th, the Firefoxx crop averaged 7.5T/ha, slightly ahead of last year’s yield, despite the very dry conditions and lack of soil moisture. It stood well, doesn’t brackle and with some nice bold grain samples there were no issues on quality.

“With our shorter growing season earlier maturity is always desirable, and I can confirm that Firefoxx was 5 days earlier to harvest than its competitors. The distilling industry definitely needs a wider genetic pool of malting barleys, particularly as an insurance policy to cover a bad disease year that could affect one or more varieties from the same family” confirms Claire.

Nicky Wilson, Regional Seed Manager (Scotland) for Frontier, has been working with Scottish farmers growing Firefoxx for distilling over the past two harvests. She adds: “Growers tell us that they really like the yield, straw strength and early maturity that the variety offers. From a sustainability perspective we, at Frontier, like the genetic diversity Firefoxx brings to the distilling sector.

“Across the industry, it’s universally recognised that we shouldn’t be dependent on one single major variety, so Firefoxx sits very nicely beside the other established varieties. Now that it has gained full malt distilling approval, we anticipate that demand for Firefoxx will be strong for the 2023 season.”

For more information on Firefoxx, download our tech sheet.

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Toby Reich

Head Of Agricultural Sales

07376 030918

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Lewis Dean

Seed Sales Specialist

07376 030918