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Winter Malting Barley – June 2023

To All Growers of Winter Malting Barley

You will know better than us that winter barleys have ripened extremely quickly this year and that harvest is likely to start next week for many. Therefore, please find below some reminders as to harvest protocols and some of the challenges that this year may bring:

Grass weeds

There seems to be a real proliferation of grass weeds this year with bromes being a particular problem. You will know that Pre-Harvest glyphosate is not the answer and although not banned on malting barley there is growing pressure to do this. All of our customers are expecting to receive glyphosate free barley. If you have particularly bad fields or patches within fields could you please harvest and store them separately until we have tested them and assessed how best to try and sort the issue. It may be possible to clean some of the seeds out and to even colour sort them.


Unless the weather turns very catchy, we would urge you to delay harvesting until your crop is below the 14.5% moisture threshold, central store drying and weight loss charges are high and therefore using natural and free energy is the preferred option. Please ensure your moisture meter has been calibrated, we will let you know if new crop moisture patterns are presenting an issue for meters.

Grain Sampling

It is very clear that growers taking samples as crops come into store is far more accurate than sending out temporary staff with grain spears. Many of you have got this down to a fine art and the system works well. We are well aware that during the rush and tear of harvest this can all go a bit wrong but would urge you to instil into your staff and store keepers that taking timely and accurate samples is a great investment in us all knowing what you have got in store and to then avoid nasty surprises as we move the crop. The AHDB grain sampling guide does offer some good advice on this.

We offer three ways to get samples back to us, they are as follows:

You will receive sample bags and freepost envelopes shortly if you have not already, please seal the bags carefully and post back to us.

Please leave samples out and we will arrange collection by a member of staff or a courier, this will need to be arranged with your usual RAL contact.

Please bring your samples to our lab at Waltham Chase or to our lab at Fisherton Grain store.


We do not envisage too many issues with lack of lorries at harvest but harvest conditions and size of the crop will dictate that. We have our usual loyal group of hauliers to move your barley and would urge you to be able to load lorries whenever the hauliers can get to you. Any issues with communication (or lack of), please do contact the office and we can help to resolve any issues.


The profusion of grass weeds, a wet March and a record hot June COULD point the way for high levels of ergot this year, this is becoming a common, annual theme so we urge you to please keep a close eye on your samples as you harvest them, process the crop and move to your stores.

Harvest 2024

We have a good array of contracts available for crop 2024, Min-Max and premiums over LIFFE wheat or feed barley will be positioned to allow you to capture some upside potential as well as protect you from exposure and risk of a market that moves against you. Please speak to your usual RAL contact for details.

We wish you all the very best for an easy and successful harvest and look forward to speaking to you and seeing your samples as they come in.

In the meantime if you have any issues please do get in touch.