International barley research conference at UC Davis

conference organizers image
Organizing committee from left to right: Dr Ana Bedea (Agriculture Canada), Professor Pat Hayes (Oregon State University), Ashely McFarland (American Malting Barley Association), Professor Brian Steffenson (University of Minnesota), Professor Glen Fox (UC Davis), Dr Harmonie Bettenhausen (Hartwick College), Dr Marta Izydorczyk (Canadian Grain Commission) and Gina Feist (Brewing & Malting Barley Research Institute, Canada). Absent: Scott Heisel (American Malting Barley Association).
Glen Fox
Sponsors of the barley conference
Thank you to all of our conference sponsors

For three days in September, after a five year hiatus, the North American barley research communities gathered at UC Davis for the combined 23rd North American Barley Researchers Workshop and 43rd Barley Improvement Conference. Delegates from the USA and Canada as well as some overseas visitors from Israel, South Africa, and Morocco, enjoyed the sunshine, warm weather and sampled some of the fruits of their labor with generous donations of amber beverages from Anheuser-Busch, Serra Nevada Brewing Company and pFreim Brewing Company.  

The academic program covered topics on barley breeding, plant pathology, agronomy and quality. An underlying theme was how the challenge from climate change will impact production and quality and how the industry can address the future risk of reduced barley production. You may ask why this is important; well, “with no barley, there is no beer”. 

The conference started with a very engaging session on updates from several key industry stakeholders, but became even livelier with discussion on hot topics such as CRISPR and genetic modification; some challenges that a number of food and beverage industries face.

A pre-conference workshop was a day for graduate students and early career researchers in the UC Davis pilot brewery, led by Joe Williams (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Endowed Brewer) and Kelly Scott (Assistant Brewer). Kelly and Joe also led a tour for delegates through the brewery during one lunch hour. Visitors came away very impressed with the pilot brewery and many asked to come back for specific training.

Glen Fox, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Science in the Department of Food Science and Technology was the chair for the conference. Professor Fox said “after several years our barley colleagues and friends gathered to discuss the many changes facing the industry, but to also enjoy networking with a few beverages”.

In organizing the conference, Professor Fox was supported by Kelly Scott and Zann Gates (Food Science and Technology staff member) for local requirements. However, industry representatives from Canada and the US supported by designing the program, engaging with sponsors and promoting the event through their networks.