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Aretha Winter Barley

New Winter Barley offers BaYMV Type 2 resistance

New AHDB Recommended List (RL) candidate winter barley variety, Aretha, is making waves in the market due to its very early maturity and resistance to type 1 and 2 barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV), soil borne diseases with the potential to devastate crops for the long-term. 

Bred by Streng, in Germany, Aretha is not only high-yielding but also early-maturing, potentially becoming the earliest maturing variety on the AHDB Recommended List. Additionally, Aretha boasts the tallest straw, which is beneficial for creating a weed-suppressing canopy and providing high straw yields. It also has strong lodging scores and offers resistance to both BaYMV Type 1 and Type 2, which will be critical for growers in the south west as awareness of Type 2 increases.

Cope managing director Gemma Clarke, says there is a need for more BaYMV resistant varieties. “While the agricultural community has long been aware of and protected against BaYMV Type 1, the impact of Type 2 remains less understood. Like Type 1, BaYMV Type 2 is a soil-borne disease that can be devastating, reducing yields by up to 50%,” she says. 

“It is often misidentified as a nutrient deficiency and can only be detected through soil testing. Symptoms appear in early spring following a cold spell, and infection spreads in distinct patches that grow each year. The virus can persist in the soil for 20 years, making variety choice crucial for effective management.”


Key Points for BaYMV Type 2:

  • Soil-borne disease
  • Remains in the soil for 20 years
  • Identified through soil testing
  • Can cause up to 50% reduction in yields
  • Variety choice is key

“Given the recent wet autumn, seed production areas are down, with wheat and barley seed areas reduced by 12-15% across the UK and winter bean areas by 30%,” explains Gemma. 

“Despite these challenges, the UK is expected to have sufficient seed for major species without needing to import, as was necessary in spring 2024. However, growers are advised to order early to secure their preferred varieties, as popular wheat and barley varieties may run short. A limited amount of Aretha winter barley seed will be available due to early access, reinforcing the need for early orders.

“Aretha provides growers with the flexibility they need for successful sowing,” adds Gemma.

To order Aretha, contact your local seed merchant.