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England Harvest 2023

Harvest in England began in July, with Winter barley being harvested in very wet conditions. This resulted in some higher moisture. This did, however, improve as August began and the rain reduced.

In terms of winter barley, we saw nitrogen levels slightly above the 5-year average, and grain size slightly below the 5-year average. Adjustments were made by maltsters to accommodate this, and a very usable crop was able to be procured.

Yield of Winter barley was below the 5-year average overall.

Spring barley harvest in England saw a slightly later start that 2022, mostly due to the less favorable weather conditions. A considerable portion of the England spring barley crop (70-75%) was planted prior to March. March then saw a vast amount of rain, delaying planting of the final 25-30% of the crop.  The crop produced was variable, mainly due to the differences in planting times. A vast difference in quality was seen between barley sown prior to March 2023, at that sown in into April.

The crop, however, displayed a bold grain size, with few grain retention issues, although nitrogen levels were slightly elevated, mainly due to the reduction in yield achieved.

Crisp Malt | Richardson International Acquisition Announcement | Barley Field

Scotland Harvest 2023

Scotland saw similar challenges with weather to England, however, the planting prior to the March rainfall was much less, with a larger portion of the spring two-row barley crop being planted in April and even into May. The difference in planting time led to a hugely variable crop in terms of quality.

Nitrogen levels in Scotland were above the five year average, and maltsters made adjustments to the specification to accommodate this. However, a usable crop was taken in, with good grain size, despite the average to below average yield in some areas. Skinned corn was also an issue in some areas, although this was variable and did not seem to be variety specific.

Two combines in the field

Barley Markets

Across 2023, we have seen much less turbulent markets than those of 2022. Grain prices have decreased and stabilized in recent months. This can be attributed to the opening of the Black Sea corridor to allow grain export from Ukraine and Russia into the market. Looking forward, markets are currently fairly quiet, however we will all be keeping a close eye on the global supply and demand, as supply could be tight going into 2024.

The last time we met on the 17th of October the crop was being drilled. Looking for 275 plants surviving in the spring. The seed rate for the crop was set by considering thousand grain weight, germination, and a field factor of 75%. Since the 17th of October, the crop has received at least 2 ½ inches of rain, but because we ploughed and drilled, the soil has taken it, and the crop emerged well. Immediately post-drilling, the crop received a low rate of herbicide for broad-leaved weeds and annual meadow grass. Establishing a firm tramline for future work. The crop is now at one true leaf and is looking well, there is an extremely low level of slug grazing that does not require treatment. The crop has accumulated 130-day degrees with 170-day degrees triggering the aphid spray. Odd-winged bird cherry oat aphids can be found in the crop now. As a second cereal the P and K indices are being reviewed with regards to precision applying phosphate and potash.

Jo Magrath, Agronomist at B&C Farming, speaks on the crop’s current condition.

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