Harvest 09: Malting barley in surplus

Malting barley quality and yields have been excellent across Europe this year, yielding about a 3m tonne surplus, according to Stuart Shand of Gleadell Agriculture.

On the back of last year’s large crop and huge carryover stocks, and this year’s poor malting demand, the news was not good for prices, he said.

“The likelihood of prices picking up is not very great at the moment, because there’s so much barley around.

“I can never remember going into harvest and not being able to sell any malting barley. One maltster is not taking any new crop until November.”

Some 93% of spring barley was testing below 1.85% nitrogen, with 88% of winter barley doing the same. “On paper, almost every sample has passed.”

However, the band of wet and warm weather across central England earlier this month meant a lot of crops were suffering from fusarium, split skins and pre-germination problems.

Overall, probably 55% of the spring barley crop would pass for malting, while well over 65% of winter barley would make the grade, with the best and brightest crops in the East.

“There’s got to be at least a 700,000t surplus of spring barley in England and Wales, and 300,000-400,000t of winter barley.”

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