As a response to the three crop rule or as a strategic defense against blackgrass, the area of spring crops this season will be significantly higher. “For many this will be in the form of spring barley, however identifying and securing a market for your crop before it is drilled is important,” says Mike Dagg, raw materials buyer for Simpsons Malt, based in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
“To some degree geographical location will dictate which market you grow for, for those in southern counties export is a key driver, for those in the north it is distilling however for those in the eastern counties there is an option to fulfill either market.”
“Each of these markets demands very different requirements and it important that these are fully understood when making variety choices. If growing a crop for the brewing or distilling market, it makes sense to choose a variety with some flexibility in marketing and for this the dual purpose non-GN varieties’ those that supply both the brewing and distilling markets – are the way forward.”
How important are dual purpose varieties?
Very, according to Bob King of Crisp Malting. “Dual purpose varieties are the obvious way forward for supplying both the brewing and the distilling markets, it’s not feasible from a stock handling situation to have multiple varieties where some only meet brewing and others only meet distilling requirements. ”
“Concerto has been the benchmark variety that has been able to offer this, and more recently Odyssey. We are now looking forward to varieties that can still do this, but offer advantages over those of Concerto and Odyssey.”
However these dual purpose varieties need to suit both the brewing and distilling sectors, and that is a challenge Mr King adds. “It would not be good enough to compromise on either the brewing or distilling characteristics; these both need to be fulfilled by the variety, as well as offering a good agronomy package.”
Varieties suitable for malt distilling should be below 1.65% nitrogen, and non-GN, says Mike Dagg.
Nitrogen levels from 1.7-1.85 will meet brewing requirements it’s always better if a premium can be obtained over that of the feed price so it’s worth considering what you are growing for.”
MSP Agriculture’s Paul Huntley adds that there is enough quality seed available for the key varieties such as Concerto and Odyssey, so growers need to take advantage of this and make the right choices taking into account what market they are growing for and how the variety fits agronomically on farm. “Feedback from the brewers on the 2014 harvest has been extremely positive, samples have been good quality and growers have also benefitted, as yields were high.”
Concerto and Odyssey are the only dual purpose, non-GN varieties to hold full approval for both brewing and malt distilling.
“Whilst Concerto already held full approval for brewing and malt distilling, the addition of Odyssey to the IBD list is very good news for spring malting barley growers who have already demonstrated their commitment in the variety since its launch in in 2011 offering a 5% yield increase over the benchmark variety Concerto, and in the east a 2% increase over Propino,” says Mark Glew, senior barley breeder for Limagrain UK.
Cementing this pipeline of non GN varieties, last season saw the recommendation of new Limagrain UK varieties Deveron, Sienna, Octavia and Olympus which offer a step up in yield and agronomics, all which will go through the IBD testing programme to ascertain their fit for the distilling and brewing markets.
|All Data from new HGCA RL SPRING BARLEY 2015/16|