As I mentioned in my last offering, the short-term prospects for barley, winter and spring, are bleak and an improvement in the market is as likely as Hull City’s Phil Brown winning manager of the month. A massive carryover of stocks by UK Maltsers means it will not be buying much for the rest of the year.
The winter barley crop is sown and we will try to find a window of opportunity to market it. But even with these depressing prospects, we’re still going to plant our usual acreage of spring barley.
We are fortunate that Gleadells, working with Carlsberg, has given us an opportunity to grow a variety that has a secure end market, with a buyback linked to the wheat futures market. This variety, bred without a particular enzyme, has the ability to produce a beer that has “improved flavour and foam stability” and a much longer shelf life.
It should be no different to grow than conventional varieties, but the main benefit is that we are growing something that the market actually wants.
I’m wary of filling in forms online after my computer died on me when I submitted my LEAF audit a few years ago. However, some things must now be completed online, including my VAT return. If my past few PAYE attempts are repeated, it will take at least an hour of utter confusion followed by weeks of anxiety waiting for confirmation that I’ve done it correctly.
One wrong mouse click will send an irreversible stream of incorrect figures down the line, whereas my bottle of Tipp-Ex served me very well in the past. I could always give it a quick whiff if I needed some inspiration.