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Winter Malting Barley Harvest 2021 Review

To All Malting Barley Growers

Having now seen a lot of winter barley, both feed and malting, it is clear that the tricky growing season culminating in a wet, dull June has taken the edge off both quality and yields. Although we have variation from region to region there is no doubt that the south east corner from Kent through to Hampshire has been hit the hardest, this corresponds with the very telling met office maps you will find herewith. We all know the effects of no sunshine during June and that has to be the main reason behind the quality issues. A very wet autumn and winter, followed by a dry April with a succession of late frosts no doubt contributed to the result.

Yields of most modern winter barley varieties have been generally disappointing, especially against how well crops were looking in the field. Feed barleys in certain areas have been dreadful with extremely poor specific weights and ‘high yielding’ malting varieties have been somewhat off the pace in many areas. Retention levels over 2.50mm sieves have been the main issue where crops failed to fill, however the industry has been reasonably quick to respond in order to cope with the lower quality this year has thrown at us.

Looking forward to next year, I thought it would be useful to give you a guide as to how things look at this stage.

Harvest 2022 Winter Barley

Winter barley has never been a crop that competes financially with crops like wheat but as the first crop to be fit to combine it has many advantages, especially now given the sort of conditions we seem to get during August. With haulage primed for movement of the early malting barleys we are able to ensure fast, organised movement to maintain space for the remainder of your harvest.
Winter malting barley is really only a crop for growers on the sort of ground that will support the production of a malting sample and the malting industry is responding to encourage you to plant malting varley this autumn.  This year shows quite clearly that ‘all that is gold does not glitter’ and the potential yield of modern feed varieties is as good as unachievable especially when looking to combine high yield with good specific weights, the two generally do not go hand in hand.

We have contracts available for the following varieties:

Maris Otter – 2022 will be the varieties 57th commercial harvest. Like most things over 50, Maris Otter is incredibly resilient and combines a unique flavour profile with consistent brewhouse performance in the brewery which keeps it demand growing all the time.

Flagon – First grown commercially 10 years ago, Flagon has been a good variety and demand still remains, it suits the barley roasting industry very well. Largely outclassed it still retains a niche following and performs very well in certain areas.

Craft – Another Syngenta variety and the mainstay of winter malting barley demand, seems fairly consistent with reasonable yields. Very large grain size

Electrum – A new Syngenta variety which is a bit earlier to harvest than Craft but otherwise very similar in terms of performance. Not as widely accepted as Craft but no doubt will attract more demand as more is used by brewers this year.

SY Vessel – An interesting development as it is the first Non GN winter malting barley so will suit the distilling market. It gives the distilling industry a seasonal ‘hedge’ against a poor spring barley crop. Yields in the field and the distillery are not as high as other varieties and the crop will be needed at low nitrogen (max 1.60%), a premium structure has yet to be delivered but definitely worth watching.

Please find below gross margins reflecting the current potential output of winter barley for next harvest. We have strong demand for all these varieties and are exclusively based to move each variety at harvest to stores/consumers if you require prompt movement.

The demand for Maris Otter continues to expand and with much lower applied nitrogen rates than other winter barleys, a high contract price, a completely non-defaultable contract with real demand, the variety ticks all the boxes for those able to grow it. It has again proved very resilient this year with high specific weights and good yields. These gross margins are based on current forward values.

It is becoming clear that although regarded as a global commodity; malting barley, both winter and spring, is very much a product that requires specialist growers and specialist knowledge to make sure that you are able to achieve the best returns. Robin Appel Ltd are in a unique position to help you gain market access and maximise winter malting barley returns.

Please speak to your usual Robin Appel Ltd contact to discuss in further detail.