Growers considering planting malting barley this season have been urged to make sure they have a viable contract before putting the crop in the ground.

 

Many saw decent returns from the crop last season due to the high prices and bumper yields, but this should not be the sole reason for growing more this year, Teddy Maufe, chairman of the malting barley growers confederation warned.

 

“I’m worried we could have a yo-yo situation where growers who saw barley do well last season, plant more this spring and we end up with huge oversupply next year and possibly into 2010. If you’re going to grow it, make sure you can get a decent contract with a viable price. Don’t wade in without thinking about what it could do to the market.”

 

Mr Maufe, who also farms on the Holkham Estate in north Norfolk, said that while barley was slightly cheaper to grow than wheat, at least £130/t was needed to make the crop stack up financially.

 

“Malting barley is a niche product and it’s important it’s grown sensibly and with discipline. Don’t be lemming-like and hope the price bucks up.”