GROWERS are struggling to harvest in catchy weather, with widespread lodging and quality problems.
Combines entered many barley crops a week later than usual and samples are generally weathered and not very bright, say merchants.
Specific weight, moisture and screenings are generally good, but most nitrogens are too high for malting. Paul Crump, of grain traders Nard Camber, Cressage, Shropshire, has seen Fanfare and Gleam up to 1.9%N and has no bids from maltsters.
"Cereal growers are not exactly knocking on our doors to sell to us either," says Mr Crump. "It is going to be a very difficult year, with growers and buyers trading hand to mouth, and higher value crops cashed in first."
Some feed barley moved earlier this week – 30 samples averaging 68kg/hl specific weight and 3-4% screenings.
Western barometer growers Andrew and Tony Symonds, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcs, have finished winter barley. Intro averaged 8.2t/ha (3.3t/acre) and Fighter almost 8t/ha (3.2t/acre), similar to last year.
Other growers have also been hit by lower yields and a 25% fall in straw value. Meurig Raymond, Trenewydd Fawr, Croesgoch, Pembrokeshire, says weather conditions have cut winter barley yields 10% to 7.2t/ha (2.9t/acre).
"Quality is good and we are not prepared to sell for £30/t less than last year. We are lucky that we can store about 4500t.