Brian Lock farms rented and
owned land in Dorset,
including 200ha (500 acres)
at Silverlake Farm,
Sherborne. Cropping includes
wheat and barley for feed,
seed and malting markets
plus oilseed rape and
AMONG other crops, I try to grow malting barley, the winter varieties Maris Otter and Pipkin, and Chariot in the spring. Many years ago my father was lucky enough to win the National Malting Barley competition with a sample of Proctor.
Last year one of our crops of Maris Otter did well enough to get into the finals of the FW/DuPont Barley-to-Beer competition. I entered again this year, but did not even get as far as crop inspection. I can only think the judges had some advance knowledge of how our crops were going to fare this year.
We have been growing Maris Otter for a few years both for malting and for seed. Until this year all our crops have met quality standards with no problems. Unfortunately, this year has turned out to be a near disaster. We had skinned and split grains, wheat admixture and nitrogens that were too high.
One of the seed crops also failed because of wheat admixture, despite being grown on a field which was Maris Otter last year and only wheat in 1995. We have never had that problem before.
All in all the malting barley was a great disappointment, particularly bearing in mind the loving care and attention lavished on these crops and strict adherence with the contract growing requirements, not least as far as nitrogen fertiliser is concerned.
Ironically, Pipkin, grown at Dorchester with much less care, produced a sample which was accepted. Even though it was a very high priced contract, it went in with almost no deductions.
In spite of this tale of woe we have sown a similar area of Maris Otter for seed and malting for 1998. At the time of writing it looks superb.n
Malting barley quality has brought much frustration for Dorset farmer Brian Lock this year.