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Spring Malting Barley Bulletin – June 2018

The Heat Is On!

The volatility continues as the heat increases. It was only 6 weeks or so ago that we were looking at a surplus of malting barley in excess of 1mt in Europe. That surplus has now been completely eroded and it is down to who harvests what in each country and what end users are prepared to accept that will dictate final prices and premiums. More on the market in due course.

Please find pointers re-harvesting your malting barley, apologies in advanced for stating the obvious but just trying to be of help.

Grain Temperatures

With the heatwave forecast to continue, it’s imperative that you monitor the temperatures of your malting barley in store. Night time temperatures allow some respite and there is little danger of putting too much moisture back into your barley. We have included a useful chart for you to judge storage times. However please do everything you can to get temperatures below 25⁰C as soon as you possibly can.

Maximal length of storage for maintaining malting barley quality under different storage conditions

Temperature Barley Moisture Content
10% 12% 14% 16% 18%
0⁰C 16 years 6 years 2 years 1 year 190 days
2⁰C 14 years 5 years 1.8 years 315 days 160 days
4⁰C 11 years 4 years 1.5 years 260 days 130 days
6⁰C 9 years 3 years 1.3 years 210 days 105 days
8⁰C 7.5 years 2.5 years 1 year 170 days 89 days
10⁰C 6 years 2 years 300 days 140 days 70 days
12⁰C 5 years 1.6 years 240 days 110 days 55 days
14⁰C 3.8 years 1.3 years 190 days 85 days 45 days
16⁰C 3 years 1 year 150 days 65 days 35 days
18⁰C 2.3 years 290 days 115 days 50 days 25 days
20⁰C 1.8 years 220 days 90 days 40 days 20 days
22⁰C 1.4 years 170 days 70 days 30 days 15 days
24⁰C 1 year 130 days 55 days 25 days 12 days
26⁰C 290 days 100 days 40 days 18 days 9 days
28⁰C 210 days 70 days 30 days 13 days 7 days
30⁰C 160 days 55 days 22 days 10 days 5 days

Barley Corns

Judging by the samples we have seen it appears there is little or no physical damage in the way of splits, skins etc. Therefore barley will store and malt well. The two problems we will face will be screenings (especially retention over a 2.5mm sieve) and specific weights.

Specific weights aren’t a particular problem to malting barley but do mean extract levels will be low for brewers and distillers. The late sowing and intense heat have not been an ideal combination. However soil type seems to be the key. Chalk based soils are faring the best.

Moisture Meters

The annual problem of farm moisture meters not recording accurately has resurfaced, whilst crops are incredibly dry it appears that some meters are reading too high. Our samplers are equipped with new crop samples, and we strongly recommend you try and check these against your samples. It could be important as you monitor crops through the winter and autumn. They will be valuable!

2019 Crop

Autumn conditions could be very testing- they will either be too wet or too dry. Whatever happens it looks like spring plantings could be high for 2019. We think you should look at base prices for your 2019 spring malting barley crops. Please talk to us when you have the chance.


We have seen some large Ergot in winter barleys and have already seen it in spring barley, we urge you to keep an eye out for it.

The Market

Explosive and complicated spring to mind!
All season we have seen the malting premium ebb and flow over feed barley, subject to how global feed grains have moved. From single figure lows to £40+ the premium has reflected the supply of both feed and malting barley. We know global supplies of feed barley have been tight since last harvest. The current global heatwave has put huge global pressure on feed grains. Turning to malting barley supply it was only 6-8 weeks ago that Europe expected a surplus, it now appears it will be very tight subject to who harvests what, the key factors now are:
Denmark and Sweden: Have been ravaged by drought, their crops will be poor in both yield and quality, we await further news as their harvest progresses.
France: Winter and Spring barley is a saviour to the market and has been traded heavily, yields and quality are ok.

England and Wales: Generally late planted and a shortened growing season spell problems, we all expected lower yields when crops were sown. Moisture retentive soils will prove to be higher yielding and will produce better quality barley.

Scotland: Cooler temperatures and recent rain have given the market north of the border a reason to be more relaxed. However the crop is still to be harvested but things look better than they were.

Germany: looks like another poor crop and they are likely to be big importers of barley yet again.

As prices go higher it becomes more likely that Southern hemisphere barley (Australia and Argentina) will be imported into Europe, subject to how their harvest performs.

There is lots going on, base price will remain volatile and malting premium will ebb and flow, subject to what the industry has, where it is and how quality parameters are changed.

We have a very good group of samplers this year and look forward to seeing what you produce. Good sampling and thorough testing will be more important than ever this year.

As a company we worked very hard to help growers last year cope with a problematic crop. Others were not so keen to help. We will adopt  the same long term approach again this year in order to get you the best return from your crop. Please speak to us re any queries you may have.

As always if you have any queries about anything in this bulletin please do get in touch with your contact at Robin Appel Ltd or via

Wishing you a successful and problem free harvest


Jonathan Arnold

27th July 2018