Scottish spring barley growers have received a further boost with news of another new plant to provide malt to the burgeoning Scotch whisky industry.

Irish-owned Greencore Malt is increasing capacity at its Buckie plant in North-east Scotland from 40,000t to 60,000t in time for the 2008 harvest.

This follows news two weeks ago of a £12m investment by Simpsons Malt to increase production at its Berwick-on-Tweed maltings by 40,000t.

Scotland has lost 120,000t of malting capacity in recent years as a result of plant closures and distillers are concerned about future supplies of malt.

With the world-wide increase in demand for Scotch whisky, distillers are offering higher prices and long-term contracts to secure future supplies.

A £30-£40/tonne increase in forward contract prices for malting barley to £110-£120/tonne for this year’s harvest has halted the decline in the Scottish spring barley acreage which this year is estimated at 210,000ha.