Harvest 2019: Rain prompts switch to spring malting barley combining

Early maturing crops of spring malting barley are showing good yields and quality as growers across southern England combine between the rain showers.

Some growers have switched to harvesting spring barley as it dries out quicker than winter wheat, and barley crops are being cut from Dorset to Essex and up into East Anglia.

Suffolk farm manager Ben Martin has started cutting 180ha of spring malting barley just north of Newmarket, with good yields and a reasonably good bold grain sample.

He has 180ha of Propino, Planet and Laureate to cut on the Velcourt-managed light land farm, which he is cutting ahead of his feed varieties of winter wheat.

“We have some early January-drilled Propino yielding well at about 7t/ha, which was a reasonably low input crop and is producing a reasonably bold sample,” he told Farmers Weekly.

See also: Harvest 2019: Winter barley hits near 14t/ha in the West Midlands

Main spring malting varieties

Jonathan Arnold at specialist malting barley merchant Robin Appel is seeing good crops across the south of England, with all the main spring malting varieties such as Propino, Planet, Laureate and Diablo being cut.

“The harvest is generally going well with yields good and no high grain nitrogens, although we are seeing skinned grains due to the June rain and green grains from some secondary tillering,” said Mr Arnold, who is the group’s trading director.

He is seeing yields of 7.0-7.5t/ha and acceptable grain nitrogen levels for malting of 1.45-1.65%, with many crops across southern England missing out on the heavy rain seen further east and north.

Many spring malting barley crops are not quite ready for harvest so it is hoped they will not be too damaged by the current wet weather.