BARLEY PLANTINGS continued to decline this year, says Allied Grain.

At the firm‘s annual harvest review in Peterborough, Cambs, last week (w/e Oct 8), barley trader Ivan Bishop told reporters much marginal barley land was going out of production.

Many farmers were looking to concentrate on wheat and oilseed rape production after CAP reform, at the expense of barley.

The total UK barley area in 2003/04 came to a little over 1m ha, the lowest for 10 years, and with yields and malting quality reduced, exports were expected to be poor, said Mr Bishop.

Speaking separately to FARMERS WEEKLY, Mark Isaacson, barley buyer at Greencore Maltings in Suffolk, said although maltsters were expecting a further decline in winter barley plantings, they were not overly concerned.

“Maltsters are only looking for about 1.9m tonnes a year out of a total crop of 5.5m tonnes,” he said.

“This year has been a good example, as even with the wet harvest there is still sufficient barley around.”