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Malting Barley Harvest 2010 Vive le Chalk


Robin Appel Ltd, one of Britains leading maltsters and grain traders, has planted a record area of Maris Otter barley for the 2011 harvest.

This increase in acreage, much of it on the prime chalk soils of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorset, is backed by increasing brewer demand, with more and more Maris Otter being grown direct between farmers and brewers as part of brewers drive to protect their

supply chain and to support local farmers.

2010 saw the driest start to a year since 1929.  A hot May and June were followed by a very wet August, conditions which together produced a variable malting barley harvest in the UK.  Spring-planted barley across the UK was around 30% down on the 2009 acreages and winter barley plantings down by around 7%.  Large stocks of malt and malting barley were still available from the plentiful 2009 harvest, but a good 2010 harvest was needed to satisfy the expected pick up in global demand on the back of recovering beer sales.

The winter barley harvest in August started well with ideal conditions.  Maris Otter excelled in the south of England where the chalk soils had absorbed winter rains and kept the plants fed through the dry spring and summer. The results were good yields of exceptional quality barley – low nitrogen, low screenings, high yields and superb sun drenched colour.  The malt that will follow when the barley has recovered from dormancy will be some of the best Otter malt ever.

The spring barley crop was sown late and in many places received no rain for many weeks.  But the incredible chalk based soils of the south of England and the rolling Hampshire downland in particular, came up trumps.  High yields, low nitrogen and low screenings made for an exceptional harvest.  Away from the chalk soils, the barleys became poorer with some very low yields, and wet weather intervened and ruined the barleys that were left out in the field.  Wet weather also decimated the Scottish, Danish and German barley crops and the extreme drought in Russia has caused the wheat price to almost double, taking all other commodities with it.

High price forward contracts for 2011 wheat and the dry autumn across Europe have meant that farmers have drilled a record amount of wheat and oilseed rape. This will undoubtedly mean a further reduction in malting barley plantings, adding to what looks like a very tight supply situation for barley.

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