I’ve heard the expression ‘Non GN’, what does it mean?
Non-GN spring barley varieties are those that do not produce Glycosidic Nitriles. Breeders are now able to identify and select varieties which have this valuable trait.
What are Glycosidic Nitriles?
Glycosidic Nitriles (GN) are organic compounds produced at high levels by some barley varieties when they are malted. The use of these varieties in the distilling industry can, under certain conditions, produce significant levels of a potentially harmful compound, called ethyl carbamate. This means that non-GN producing spring barley varieties have now become standard in the distilling industry.
Where did the non-GN trait come from?
The distilling industry asked for Limagrain’s help to develop non-GN varieties in the late 1990’s. Marker work showed that the synthesis of Glycosidic Nitriles is controlled by just a small piece of DNA. Knowing which bit of DNA is responsible allowed breeders, using marker technology, to find non-GN producing varieties. The same technology now allows us to produce improved varieties and only select the non-GN varieties to bring to market.
Will I have grown a non-GN variety?
Typically, varieties that are approved for distilling are non-GN. ‘Decanter’ was the first commercial non-GN variety, ‘Concerto’ is the most widely grown and ‘LG Diablo’; the highest yielding variety on the AHDB Recommended List, is the latest to come to market.