Malting extremely small quantities of barley

MARK R. SCHMITT (1), Allen D. Budde (1)
(1) USDA Agricultural Research Service, Cereal Crops Research Unit, Madison, WI

Micromalting procedures for malt quality analysis typically use 50–500 g of barley, and can produce representative malts for evaluation of malting quality potential in barley breeding programs. Modifications to routine micromalting protocols in which small quantities of grain within inexpensive mesh containers are surrounded by a larger quantity of grain in standard-sized containers allow malts to be generated from 2 g of barley. Common malting quality parameters measured on these small-scale malts correlate well with those from standard malting and malt quality analysis, demonstrating their suitability for initial screening of malting quality. The smaller sample size enables multiplexing samples within a malting container, such that several different samples can be malted in the space formerly needed for a single sample, thereby increasing the potential malting throughput. The combination of this extremely small-scale malting procedure with previously described reduced-quantity mashing and malt analysis procedures can expand the capacity for preliminary screening of malt quality characteristics. This potentially benefits malting barley germplasm development programs by increasing sample throughput and reducing analysis turn-around time. In addition, the ability to generate and analyze representative malts on this very small scale may be useful in research studies where grain samples are limited, such as might occur in specially developed genetic populations. This ability to malt extremely small amounts of barley will also facilitate basic research studies examining the genetic and biochemical bases of malting quality.

Mark Schmitt received his Ph.D. degree in plant physiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. He joined the Agricultural Research Service’s Cereal Crops Research Unit in Madison in 2003 as a research chemist/lead scientist for a program that includes both basic and applied research on malting quality.