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Functional Food Barley

Title of Experiment: Functional Food Barley

Date started: March 2008

Contact: Dr Katherine Steele

Funding source: Welsh Government.

Location: Henfaes Research Centre (lowland site)

Experimental Aims:

  1. To select and evaluate novel breeding lines of naked barley for agronomic traits
  2. Engage with food industry companies to develop and test marketable products from naked barley
  3. To develop a supply chain for food barley in the UK

Brief description

Since 2008, field trials have been carried out with a range of novel breeding lines and control cultivars at the Bangor University Henfaes Research Centre in the lowland part of the farm. Four breeding lines have been selected for agronomic performance in the field and glasshouse. The grain has been tested for nutritional components and health benefits. They were found to have lower glycaemic index (GI) values than oats. Selected lines were demonstrated at NIAB-TAG’s Innovation Farm (Cambridgeshire) in 2012 and 2013, and at Cereals 2013, in Lincolnshire. Two have been tested by farmers. Working with a commercial farmer, we have developed a crop for product testing and will be developing links with small and medium enterprises and larger food companies through the WISE Network.


We welcome collaboration on this trial, particularly from food industry companies and millers who are interested in food product development. The contact details are listed at the top of the page. Collaborations include:

Prof. Gary Frost, Imperial College London
Dr Edward Dickin, Harper Adams University

Publications arising from this experiment

Steele K.A, Dickin E.T, Keerio M.D, Samad S., Kambona C, Brook R.M, Thomas BT, Frost G, (2013)  Breeding low-glycemic index barley for functional food Field Crops Research. In press

Dickin E.T., Steele K.A., Edwards-Jones G., Wright D. (2012) Agronomic diversity of naked barley (Hordeum vulgare L.): a potential resource for breeding new food barley for Europe. Euphytica 184: 85-99.

Dickin E.T., Steele K.A., Frost G., Edwards-Jones G., Wright D. (2011) Effect of genotype, environment and agronomic management on Beta-glucan concentration of naked barley grain intended for health food use. Journal of Cereal Science 54:44-52.

Photographs of the trial

Figure 1. Image showing plot trials for distinctiveness, uniformity and stability selection of novel breeding lines

Figure 2. Image showing four barley varieties: Static is a hulled variety and the other three are naked varieties from around the world. The novel lines are derived from crosses with Static and naked varieties.

Figure 3. Novel barley Line 15 (left) and elite spring barley Propino (right) at Gwelfor Farm, Conwy Valley, at 220 m altitude. Photo: Robert Brook, Bangor University.