The current study investigated use of a controlled misting environment to simulate field conditions that have been implicated in high levels of the malting barley defect, grain skinning. More than 200 spring barley varieties were assessed to identify those varieties that were particularly resistant or susceptible to the defect. Relationships between skinning severity and the traits ear length, floret number, grain number and grain weight were examined among the varieties. In a panel of seven varieties chosen as treatment controls, misting was found to significantly increase skinning severity. The misting treatment had no effect on measured ear traits of these varieties. Among the 200 varieties grown under the misting treatment, there was a continuous spectrum of skinning severities, which were not correlated with ear length, floret number, grain number or grain weight. Using the misting treatment, differences in susceptibility to grain skinning could be determined among varieties. As the misting treatment did not affect measured ear traits, and no correlation was found between ear traits and skinning severity among varieties, the effect of misting on skinning severity must be mediated through other physiological characteristics.