24 July 2002

Malting quality a difficult call

MALTING quality and hence premium development in winter barleys was hard to call earlier this week, as relatively few samples had been tested.

"I am reluctant to draw any true conclusions yet," says Andrew Dewing of Aylsham Grain in Norfolk. But early Fanfares had slightly higher than hoped-for screenings, at 6-9% over a 2.25mm sieve. "And I have heard of worse than that.

"In Pearl we have also seen some low nitrogens, below 1.5, which is concerning."

Fanfares high screenings were echoed by Grainfarmers Stephen Howlett. "Last year we had some good winter barleys – it was like shelling peas. The quality is much more variable this year."

In contrast to Aylshams experience nitrogens tended to be high, a result of the dry April and early May, which directed more of the N to the ears, he believes. "We have seen a few over 1.85, and several in the 1.7-1.8 range. But anything under 1.8 should be useable."

Sussex-based Richard Wright of Bartholomews was quite encouraged by the few samples he had seen. "We have had high kilo weights and plenty of nitrogens in the 1.5-1.6 range, which is a bit low. But I am expecting the quality to improve." Early cut crops are often misleading for several reasons, he notes.

Wiltshire Grains Nick Brown says quality after a slow start was "all over the place". "There is no pattern at all, but some samples are diabolical." &#42