1st Barley Harvest Report Germany
Both the quality and quantity of the German 2019 spring barley harvest turned out to be below expectations. There had been plenty of optimism about of this year’s crop, starting in the spring and continuing all the way to the beginning of the harvest, when the regional associations organized crop tours and information events. In the end, however, as the various stakeholders in the trade released their results, all forecasts were proven wrong. The total 2019 area of spring barley plantings in Germany added up to about 360,000 ha (almost 890,000 ac). This is about 90,000 ha (roughly 225,000 ac) less area than the year before. The decrease is primarily the result of a corresponding increase in feed crop plantings, which followed extremely dry conditions in 2018 that lasted well into this spring. By that time seeding conditions for barley were extremely favorable and the stocks emerged well. Cooler temperatures and much-needed precipitation in May, unfortunately, were barely sufficient to overcome the effects of the extreme drought that had preceded it. Yet, not all German growing areas were equally affected. In some regions, the rains of May were indeed enough to stimulate sufficient growth, while in others, they were not. By mid-June, temperatures shot up to 35°C (95°F) and higher and some stocks ran out of water. Even in such regions as Lower Saxony, where irrigation is common, fields intended for malting-quality barley were abandoned. Instead, farmers used the now-scarce moisture for other crops.
The result of this weather pattern was a heterogeneous harvest with a very broad spread of key parameters, especially in the areas of protein content and plumpness values (see table in attachment). Based on calculations from sample data collected in the different German states, the average spring barley yield on German fields was 5.33 MT/ha (metric ton per hectare), which amounts to a total harvest of approx. 1.9 million MT. The average protein content was 11.4%. These averages, however, are rather meaningless because of the extreme heterogeneity of the crop. Thus, they do not reflect reality. Experts estimate that this year’s total amount of German malting-quality spring barley is a mere 1.16 million MT. This translates into only 61% of the entire crop. For reference, in many good years in the past, more than 70% of the German harvest have been of malting quality.
In areas with high-protein barley, yields were also below average primarily because the lack of moisture in the soil prevented the nitrogen fertilizer from dispersing properly. Likewise, the stress from the heat and dryness led to a shortened and accelerated filling phase of the kernels, which explains this year’s unusually low average plumpness value of only 84.8%, in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. Yet, there is one piece of positive news about this year’s harvest: Because of the dry and warm weather during the growing season, virtually the entire spring barley crop remained free of diseases. Especially the hot and rain-free ripening period represented above-average phytosanitary conditions and the crop shows no visible flaws. The main varieties cultivated in 2019 were Avalon, Accordine, Quench, Soloist, RGT Planet, and Leandra.
For the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V.