Malting barley crops in the UK and Europe are entering into a critical period in their development with the final outcome now to be solely determined by the weather. After the wet autumn and winter, we should not be surprised that mother nature has now presented us with near drought conditions in parts of the UK!
Many malting barley producing areas of England and France have seen virtually zero rainfall in the past month with a commensurate impact on potential yields. Precipitation levels in Scotland, Germany, Denmark and central Europe so far, although low, have been just sufficient to keep crops on target to produce near average yields.
Whilst the present warm dry weather across most of NW Europe would, in any other year, be feeding a bullish malting barley market, the particular circumstances of this year; a very large planted area of spring barley in Europe combined with a reduction in demand from maltsters due to the COVID 19 effect on world beer and whisky production and consumption, is having a ‘dampening’ impact on malting barley markets.
However, despite the potential for Europe to produce a significant surplus of malting barley this harvest, the weather may yet have an impact on quality as well as yield, with low yielding crops tending to produce higher grain nitrogen/protein, whilst lack of moisture can also lead to grain filling issues and resultant high levels of screenings, with the consequence that the proportion of the crop suitable for malting may be significantly reduced as crops are downgraded to feed.
Finally, on a global level, there is also potential support to European malting barley market from the decision by China to put an 80.5% tariff on Australian malting barley forcing Chinese maltsters to look to other origins ( Argentina , Canada, France) for supplies.
Check out the video below of the mini-crop walk we did late May – thank you to Alistair Beales, Estate Manager at Gayton Estate, for showing the crops he grows for us. It was a very windy day so apologies about the audio at points in the video!