Oregon State University has developed the first winter hooded barley that produces high yields of forage, thrives in the Northwest and resists a crop-damaging fungus known as stripe rust. 

Until now, no single variety of hooded winter barley could do these three things, said Pat Hayes, the head of OSU's barley breeding program. Researchers accomplished the feat by crossing two successful cultivars.

The new variety, named Verdant, is best-suited for forage for livestock because it produces abundant leafy matter. In field experiments, Verdant produced a maximum of 10 tons of forage per acre and yielded a maximum of 2.7 tons of grain per acre, he said.

Verdant is most likely to succeed in the Willamette Valley, the Palouse and the Columbia Basin, he added.

OSU has exclusively licensed Verdant for five years to Tri-State Seed Co., a wholesale and retail seed marketer in Connell, Wash.

Verdant, technically known as OR712, is a cross between the “Kold” and “Hoody” winter barley cultivars. Hoody is the only hooded winter barley that can grow in the Pacific Northwest but it's susceptible to stripe rust, Hayes said. Kold, on the other hand, resists the disease and grows in the Northwest but doesn't have high yields of grain and forage.

When compared with Hoody, Verdant produced more grain and forage and had heavier kernels and better resistance to stripe rust, Hayes said.

Stripe rust causes rows of yellowish-orange pustules on the leaves. Under severe conditions, pustules may form in the spike, which houses the kernels. The pathogen, which thrives in cool, wet weather, can significantly reduce yields and the quality of the grain.

Hooded varieties of barley are used primarily for forage. Winter varieties are planted in the fall and are harvested for forage in mid-June and for grain in mid-July. These early harvest times may allow for planting a crop of a cool-season vegetable in some environments, Hayes said.