By FWi staff

HARVEST 2002 is likely to yield the smallest barley crop for 40 years, and growers are being urged not to abandon the spring crop.

Winter barley area is unlikely to have recovered to 1999/2000 levels, due to the increase in wheat plantings this autumn.

And spring barley area could be much smaller due to disappointing malting premiums.

However, farmers should not read too much into that in terms of premiums, said traders and maltsters gathered at NIAB in Cambridge to judge the Institute & Guild of Brewing national malting barley competition of England and Wales this week.

“We could be looking at the smallest UK barley crop since 1962,” said Michael Banks of Banks Cargill.

“But with the mix of varieties these days – especially the winters such as Pearl and Regina – there is more malt than feed. There should be enough to go round.”