Barley Breeding Program


PI: Pat Hayes, Professor


Why Breed Barley at OSU?

Barley is unique in that it is an ideal model genetic system and an economically important crop. Our breeding program develops germplasm and varieties for Oregon first, and beyond that – wherever they can be useful. Our research focuses on quantitative traits of economic importance. These include quality (food and malting) and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.


  • Contribute to human health, happiness, and economic development via the release of highly productive varieties with unique quality profiles.
  • Expand the body of knowledge regarding inheritance of complex traits in plants.
  • Encourage the characterization and conservation of plant genetic diversity by demonstrating utility of novel alleles.

Current Research Projects

  • Development of facultative two-row malting barley.
  • Development of hull less food barley varieties with novel aroma and flavor attributes.
  • Development of hooded forage varieties.
  • Implementation of doubled haploid genomic selection for malting and food quality.
  • Contributions of barley to beer flavor.
  • Genetics of low temperature tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, and water use efficiency.
  • Genetics of quantitative resistance to barley stripe rust and leaf scald.
  • Allele mining in germplasm collections.

Graduate Student Expectations

Graduate students are expected to demonstrate curiosity, motivation, hard work, and academic excellence. Graduate students will gain experience in the field, greenhouse, and lab. It is expected that Master’s students publish one journal paper and Ph.D. students two to three journal papers. Besides all these academic requirements, students need to have an adventurous and can-do attitude.

Breeding Methods

Doubled haploid phenotypic, marker-assisted, and genomic selection.


American Malting Barley Association, Agricultural Research Foundation, Barley Flavor Craft Brew Consortium, Busch Agricultural Resources, Great Western Malting, Idaho Barley Commission, National Science Foundation, Oregon Wheat Commission, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture


On campus:

  • Andrew Ross
  • Chris Mundt
  • Mary Cluskey
  • Mat Kolding
  • Mike Flowers
  • Tom Shellhammer

Off campus:

  • David Hole, Utah State University
  • Gongshe Hu, USDA-ARS, Idaho
  • Kevin Murphy, Washington State University
  • Kevin Smith, University of Minnesota
  • Xianming Chen, Washington State University
  • Partnered research with Australia, Germany, Japan, Scotland, Spain, and Uruguay

Graduate Student Projects

  • Araby Belcher, Ph.D.: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for nitrogen use efficiency, water use efficiency, disease resistance, yield components and malting quality using elite germplasm.
  • Dustin Herb, ph.D. Barley contributions to beer flaver and GWAS for tocols.
Twenty-six graduate students have completed thesis research with the barley project.

Botany and Agronomy

Barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare) is an annual self-pollinating diploid grass. It originated in the Fertile Crescent, was the staple food of the Roman gladiators (the hordearii), and arrived in the Americas in 16th century. There are multiple classes of barley with the main distinguishing features being: Row Type(20row vs. 6-row), Hull Type (hulled vs. hull-less), Growth Habit (spring, facultative, winter), and End Use (malt, food, feed). Based on the spikelet arrangement, barley can classify into two-row or six-row. Two-row barley is commonly used in malting since the higher malting extarct yield.

Economic Significance

Barley is the fourth most important cereal crop in the world. Barley is the base of beer and brewing in the US accounts for over 200 billion dollars in business activity. In 2013 there were 70,000 acres of barley grown in Oregon (winter barley). Over 25,000 Oregonians are employed in growing, processing, and brewing with barley. 


See faculty profile and vita.

Varieties Released

  1. Maranna (spring 6-row feed) 1993
  2. Kold (winter 6-row feed) 1996
  3. Strider (winter 6-row feed) 1997
  4. Orca (spring 2-row feed) 1998
  5. Tango (spring 6-row feed) 2000
  6. Sara (spring 6-row forage) 2002
  7. Maja (winter 6-row feed/malt) 2007
  8. Verdant (winter 6-row forage) 2011
  9. Alba (winter 6-row feed) 2012
  10. Full Pint (spring 2-row malt*) 2014
  11. STRKR (Gemplasm, winter 6-row food) 2015
  12. BSR27 (spring 2-row forage) pending
  13. Buck (winter 6-row food) pending

*Malting Barley Development and Release