Edney, M. J., MacLeod, A. L. and LaBerge, D. E. 2014. Evolution of a quality testing program for improving malting barley in Canada. Can. J. Plant Sci. 94: 535-544. The quality of Canadian malting barley has continually improved since malt barley was exported in the late 1800s. Improvements were linked to a dynamic evaluation system that evolved with a better understanding of malting biochemistry and as suitable methods were developed. Methods became more accurate and more specific in their ability to define quality. They progressed from sensory evaluation, to surmising malt quality from barley protein levels, to the first micro-maltings followed by automated laboratory-scale maltings. Malt quality analysis started simply with malt extract and diastatic power followed by wort protein. As the necessity for cell wall breakdown became better understood, analyses like wort viscosity, fine/coarse grind extract differences and wort β-glucan were adopted. A continuum of cultivars were released in Canada, based on this evaluation system, starting with the six-rowed releases OAC 21, then Montcalm and Bonanza, followed by the two-rowed releases Betzes, Klages, Harrington and AC Metcalfe. Release of future cultivars will depend on an evolving evaluation system that could include; barley homogeneity, specific starch-degrading enzymes, individual amino acids and specific traits such as low lipoxygenase and low phytic acid barley. The result will be development and release of cultivars with better defined quality that can fill specialized niches in the malting and brewing industries of the future.
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Vol. 94 • No. 3