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Spring Malting Barley – August 2021

To All Malting Barley Growers

With some settled weather in the forecast at long last, most spring barley crops are fit and ready to be cut, having seen a few crops cut already there are a couple of issues we think you need to look out for:

Skinned Grains – with the wet weather the crops have endured over the last few weeks, the barley skins are not overly well set and are therefore prone to skinning. It is almost impossible to eliminate the problem altogether but please be aware that it is a potential issue and set your combine up to reduce the level of skinned grains in the final sample. A high percentage of skinned grains causes 3 main problems:

1. Absence of husk means too much water is absorbed in the steeping process and the barley ‘drowns’.

2. No protective skin can mean that the embryo can fall out during handling and in the malting process, leading to germination failure and therefore low conversion levels and ‘whole corns’ (ungerminated/malted grains) in the malt sample.

3. The ‘naked’ carbohydrate becomes a host for fusarium/mycotoxin contamination which can lead to gushing in bottled and canned beer.

Moisture Levels – We can cope with high moisture content in malting barley but would urge you to get moisture down to below 17% if possible please for barley that needs to move promptly. For longer term storage the drier and cooler you can get the barley the more sound it will be. The cost to you of drying grain above 17% does not get any cheaper and the more we have above 17% the slower the intake performs.

Samples – We have proven beyond doubt that samples taken by growers as crops go into store give us a far more accurate picture of what quality you have got, please try and do this and we will collect or you can post in your samples using our FREEPOST envelopes. Please contact the office if you require more or wish to arrange a collection.

Glyphosate – The use of pre-harvest glyphosate on malting barley is permitted on spring barley although its use as a pre harvest desiccant is best avoided if at all possible. Please see below:

There is a lot of noise about the use of glyphosate and its use is under constant scrutiny, however a European Food Safety Agency review (EFSA) study has recently concluded that glyphosate is highly unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.  Coupled with this it is clear that all recent data supports the view that UK barley and malt show glyphosate residues at well below MRL levels and UK beer and whisky show no detectable levels of glyphosate residues.

The industry needs to keep it this way and we therefore urge you to avoid its use pre harvest and if secondary tillering, shading etc is severe please only spot spray where needed.

There is no doubt that spring barley crops have some good potential in terms of both yield and quality and given how late this harvest has been and how cool the temperatures have been recently we do not think that they have taken any harm up to now. Premiums are firm as is the base feed barley price and would therefore urge you to prioritise getting your spring barley crops in safely.

With both the feed and malting barley stocks at record low levels coming into this harvest and demand re building for malting barley globally there is a need for malting barley, hence high premium levels. Global weather has not been good for the crop with intense heat in Canada and very wet conditions in mainland Europe. The industry will ‘make do and mend’ where it can but ultimately both brewers and distillers need quality barley. The UK and Denmark currently have a high quality crop, we just need 3-4 decent weeks of weather to gather it in safely.

Wet and Dry Barley – If these unsettled conditions continue, please try to make a note where pre and post rain barley is situated in your store, that way we can carry out tests to see what sort of quality you have. At this point we do not think that your barley has deteriorated.

Good luck for the remainder of your harvest, please do contact your usual Robin Appel Ltd contact with any queries you may have or if you need further bags and envelopes, or e-mail