Quality malt barley production, processing and marketing had paid a greater degree of attention among farmers, traders, malting and brewing factories in Ethiopia. there is no quantified research information available on effect of production sites, seed ageing and potential varietal differences in meet up basic seed and grain quality standards for malt. Hence, this study was designed to evaluate the effect of production sites and seed age on seed quality of malt barley varieties. The experiment was conducted under laboratory condition using 12 treatments consisting 3 barley sample collections obtained from DARC, ESE and OES,2 seed ages (year 1and year 2) and 2 malt barley varieties (Beka and Holker). Seed quality analyses were performed using standard laboratory procedures. All measured seed quality parameters were subjected to ANOVA using SAS version 9.1. Highly significant (P < 0.01) variation was observed among the tested quality traits. Two years aged seed samples gave the highest percentage of abnormal seedlings and dead seeds before accelerated ageing under standard germination test. Similarly, artificially accelerated aged seeds of malt barley displayed a marked decline in germination % as compared to newly harvested one. Highly significant differences (P <0.01) were observed between one and two years aged seeds after accelerated ageing. The highest percent of normal seedlings (37.1%) was recorded in one year aged seeds compared to two years aged (19.8%) samples. With increased age of seeds in storage there was proportional increase in seed deterioration rates. This might indicate how natural and artificial seed ageing affect seed and other end use quality in malting barley. In general, natural as well as artificially seed aged under prolonged storage were perceived to be a leading yield and quality reducing factor by decreasing rate of seedling emergence and stress survival ability of malt barley in the field. Therefore, it is necessary to use freshly harvested seeds in order to ensure satisfactory yield attainment in the field and have better quality barley grain for malting industry.
Key words: Production site, seed age, artificial seed ageing, malt barley.