KWS Aliciana barley variety

By David Jones, Broad Acre Agronomist, Msc. Agriculture

Kenya Breweries are introducing a new malting barley variety, KWS Aliciana, giving growers an alternative to Quench, Cocktail, Grace and the likes of Nguzo. This is a very interesting move because KWS is the world’s largest privately owned plant breeder, based in Germany but operating globally, and has some very good malting varieties that are widely adopted by the major brewers.

KWS Aliciana was first introduced in 2010 so it is not a new variety. The best – and only – data available is from INIA in Uruguay, where three years of trials showed very consistent yields, but not comparable with any of the major global varieties for medium-higher rainfall areas, such as Planet, KWS Irina or Propino. Given that this is 8 years old too, it is unlikely to be a massive jump forward in yield.

We currently have the variety in trials in different three areas to evaluate its performance as we simply do not know enough about it in our own conditions yet.

What we do know is that Aliciana showed exceptionally low grain nitrogen content in three years of Uruguayan trials, and perhaps coincidentally the variety stands out very clearly in trials with its dark green plots, almost giving the appearance of a wheat variety.

It is certainly fast to establish and cover the ground, but whether it is a true early maturing variety we need to see in this environment. Uruguayan data suggests that it is not early but comparable to Cocktail.

KWS Aliciana at a glance
Yield comparable to Cocktail
Very low grain Nitrogen
Medium maturity
Short height, low lodging risk

What will be a big unknown is how the variety copes with Net Blotch – this is not a major disease in Uruguay so there is no reliable data on it, but rest assured that our Timau trials site has both fungicide treated and untreated replicates to examine these aspects.

Widely grown KWS Irina, a sister variety is very good on Net Blotch in wetter environments such as Ireland, so let us hope that there is some similar genetic material in Aliciana.

The importance of the T4 fungicide for wheat

For most wheat diseases – Septoria, Yellow Rust, Tan Spot etc – it is very rare to see responses to fungicides beyond the traditional flowering or ‘ear wash’ spray timing.

This changes drastically with Stem Rust however because of the speed at which UG99 in particular gets into crops during grainfill. The picture below from our trials in Naivasha show very clearly the effects of late Stem Rust infection.

T4 fungicide for wheat

Untreated Control (left), last fungicide at early flowering (centre), and last fungicide at Milky Ripe (right).

 The untreated control which has received no fungicides whatsoever is visually shrivelled. Where THREE fungicides were applied, the last at early flowering targeting Fusarium, there are far fewer shrivelled grains in the sample.

Where FOUR fungicides were applied (we looked at Silvacur, Evito T, Abacus, Amistar + tebuconazole and a new SDHI/triazole/strobe at this timing), all of the treatments had massively improved grain quality.

The full results will be discussed with agronomy members, but the major conclusions are; an early stem extension fungicide appears to be of little benefit (not the first time we have seen this), and keep up the pressure late with robust ear wash (T3) and follow up (T4) sprays on all but the most resistant varieties (Eldo Baraka for example).

  Cropnuts Variety Stem Rust ratings*
Very susceptible Robin
Susceptible Hawk, Korongo
Reasonable resistance Kwale, Wren, Tai
Very resistant Eldo Baraka, Eldo Mavuno, Brambling

*Based on Cropnuts variety trials and our agronomists’ field observations.

Grain storage

Getting stores ready to receive harvested grain is often an afterthought, but storing grain effectively gives you so many marketing options when prices are low. With a little bit of preparation and management you can store grain for months, allowing you to sell grain on your own timescale.

Grain storage

Storing grain well gives you options to sell according to your cash flow.

Firstly, start with a clean store. Many storage pests such as Grain Borers and Weevils only survive in grain, so if the store is swept and cleaned of debris it will take far longer for infestations to build up.

Once the store is free from dust and residue, clean the fabric of the store with an approved insecticide such as Reldan (chlorpyrifos). Take time to clean all areas of the store well such as roofs and boarding, not just those parts of the store that come into contact with the grain.

Note that rubber conveyors are notorious for harbouring Penicillium fungus which produced Ochratoxin A, so clean these well especially if you cannot effectively cool the grain.

When the grain arrives in store, if it is 18% moisture you should dry it immediately. If you are anticipating storing for over 3 months, aim for below 15% moisture.

Grain storage pests

It sounds obvious, but identifying the pest correctly and knowing how to get rid of them is quite fundamental

Very few stores in Kenya have effective cooling systems, but when the temperature is low at night cooling to 15°C by blowing ambient air is not hard. Just be careful if there is a big difference between the temperature of the grain and the air you are blowing in, otherwise condensation can be a problem.

Avoid cooling seed and malting barley below 10C otherwise secondary dormancy may be induced.

Above all, monitor the grain pile and be prepared to take action if pests are found; approved store insecticides based on deltamethrin are good on Saw Toothed Grain Beetle and Weevils, but will NOT control mites.

If mites are an issue, either an approved formulation of chlorpyrifos applied to the grain surface, or physically moving the grain with a conveyor or tractor loader will control them.

If fungi pockets develop in the grain, running through the drier on a low heat is usually the most effective control – the action of physically moving the grain is as important as reducing the moisture content.

Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation Agventures

Farming for the future requires a change of approach. Monoculture, soil degradation and climate change and soil degradation are threats to the future of how we feed the planet.

Agventure Ltd set up the Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation to help farmers diversify cropping systems and introduce techniques which have a long-term outlook to improve soil health.

The Center of Excellence for Crop Rotation works extensively with Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (CropNuts).

Till next time,

Happy farming,


About David

David Jones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.