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University of Minnesota releases new barley, wheatUniversity of Minnesota releases new barley, wheat

The barley variety is the first winter barley offered by the university.

October 5, 2022

3 Min Read
barley plot
FLEXIBLE CROP: MN-Equinox, a new six-row winter barley released by the University of Minnesota, can be planted in the spring or fall, giving farmers flexibility in planning their rotations and adapting to weather conditions. Photos courtesy of MCIA

A new winter barley and hard red spring wheat variety have been released by the University of Minnesota.

MN-Equinox is the first winter barley variety released by the university. A six-row barley, MN-Equinox is facultative, meaning it can be planted in either the spring or fall, giving farmers flexibility in planning their rotations and adapting to weather conditions.

“MN-Equinox is the result of several years of breeding efforts focused on developing a winter-hardy barley variety for Minnesota and Upper Midwest growers that will protect the soil and provide a harvestable yield for market,” says Kevin Smith, U-MN barley breeder and research lead for winter barley.

MN-Equinox was developed with support from the U-MN Forever Green Initiative, a research platform with leadership housed in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. FGI is focused on developing winter annual and perennial crops and cropping systems that protect soil and water, while also providing new economic opportunities for growers and industry.


Seed of MN-Equinox is marketed by Albert Lea Seed house. Other companies or individuals interested in producing and selling certified seed of MN-Equinox should contact the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) to obtain a license for seed production.

Earlier this year, U-MN announced the release of a new hard red spring wheat variety, MN-Rothsay. The variety features a combination of excellent straw strength and very high yields.

MN-Rothsay surpasses Linkert

“MN-Rothsay has straw strength comparable to Linkert, but has about 10% higher grain yield,” says Jim Anderson, U-MN wheat breeder in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. “The exceptional straw strength of Linkert was largely responsible for its five-year reign from 2016-2020 as the most popular variety in the state, so our expectation is that MN-Rothsay’s higher grain yields, comparable to or higher than other popular varieties, and improved disease resistance compared to Linkert will be attractive to growers,” Anderson adds.

In addition to high yields, the protein level of MN-Rothsay is higher than other top-yielding varieties along with good test weight and a good preharvest sprouting rating. MN-Rothsay has moderate overall disease resistance, with a very good score for leaf and stem rust and a good fusarium head blight rating.

The MN-Rothsay variety has stood out in both state and regional trials. In the Uniform Regional Nursery trials, it consistently finished near the top in grain yield and had the best straw strength of all entries in multiple years of testing.

Jochum Wiersma, U-MN Extension small grains specialist, notes that the value growers place on straw strength cannot be overstated, making MN-Rothsay the logical choice to replace Linkert in the U-MN’s lineup.

The wheat release is named in honor of the Minnesota city of Rothsay in the southern Red River Valley, an area of the state with a long history of wheat production.

MN-Rothsay is added to a long list of wheat varieties developed by the U-MN spring wheat breeding program, which began more than a century ago. Another variety, MN-Torgy released in 2020, was the most widely planted wheat variety in Minnesota this past year.

MN-Rothsay will be distributed through MCIA members, with seed available for planting in spring 2023. Visit the MCIA website,, for a list of certified seed producers. Or contact MCIA at 800-510-6242.

For performance data and comparisons of wheat, barley and oat varieties, visit the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station website at

Source: Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all of its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


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