Large stocks mean barley care vital
CAREFUL storage of this years malting barley crop will be vital.
Not only do maltsters have large carryovers of stocks, but a big area of potential malting barley waits to be cut, and much is already laid.
Growers will need to hold on to the crop to get the best from the market, advises Peter Crisford of the Malting Barley Company, Melksham, Wilts.
"The 1996 crop was expensive and most maltsters are still full, of both barley and malt," he stresses. "Be prepared to hang on to your crops and look after them this harvest."
Cutting at the right time is a good start. That means resisting the temptation to combine too early, particularly if it is a wet harvest. The value of the sample can be reduced if the grains are not ripe.
Mr Crisford suggests the easiest way to determine whether a crop is ready is to pick some ears randomly and then cut grains in half. "If the inside of the grain is white, then it is ripe. Wait for the crop to mature before harvesting."
The ideal moisture content for combining is 14-16%, and avoids the need to dry on-farm. "That is in an ideal world. Maltsters do not like barleys to be dried twice."
Lodged barley may mean drying is necessary. If so, the temperature of the air should not exceed 68C, and grain temperature should be kept below 40C so germination is not affected.
Grain should be put across screens. "The contracts specify below 6% screenings, over a 2.25mm screen. If screenings are higher put the sample over a cleaner and then check it."
Although grain often goes into storage in hot weather, there will be no problem, providing ventilation takes place immediately. "That will bring the temperature down, and stop the grain sweating," says Peter Crisford.
Grain intended for a quick sale after harvest will also sweat if left, especially when hot. "Keep air going through it. Germination can quickly be reduced.
"Moisture and temperature readings should be taken as it goes in and comes out of store. Weekly charts are a good idea, so be prepared to sample grain regularly, climbing all over it if necessary." *