1st Harvest Report Malting Barley Oct. 2020
In many regions of Germany, the spring barley harvest of 2020 turned out to be better than was expected earlier in the year, when uneven spring weather conditions and a subsequent prognosis during the harvest suggested otherwise. On the basis of sample evaluations conducted by stakeholders in the barley trade in the various German states and several malting houses, the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V. (German Brewing Barley Association) is now able to issue its preliminary harvest report.
The cultivation area of German spring barley in 2020 was approximately 350,000 hectares (ha) (865,000 acres), which is roughly the same as it was in 2019. With well-dried and loose soils at the end of winter, planting conditions for spring barley were excellent. However, soon thereafter the crop got off to a bad start in large sections of the country because of a six-week stretch, in April and early May, of unusually high temperatures and a complete lack of precipitation. As a result, the crop became patchy with low densities in many places. Fortunately, cooler temperatures in May brought badly needed rain just in the nick of time, thus preventing further damage from the extreme spring drought.
Unlike in 2019, summer temperatures were moderate with well-distributed precipitation. In addition, extreme weather conditions in the form of super-hot days and heavy deluges were virtually absent from the vegetation period. Farmers had to contend with just a few extremely hot days at the beginning of the ripening phase and during the harvest. However, a good amount of moisture, combined with moderate temperatures during the tillering and kernel-filling phase, ensured that there was a sufficient uptake of nutrients by the plants, resulting in even growth. Locally, on the other hand, there was some drought damage and below-average tillering that the fields could not make up. This caused some yield losses, as well as some sprouting. Furthermore, next to the insufficient supply of water in the spring, very cold night temperatures in May negatively affected the boot stage of many plants. Therefore, an unusual number of seed heads showed unfertilized and shriveled-up kernels at harvest time, a condition that tends to be more common in winter rather than in spring barley.
Despite these adverse circumstances, the results of the German 2020 spring barley harvest are impressive. The average yield is 5.39 metric tons (MT)/ha (in 2019, it was 5.31 MT/ha), and the total spring barley harvest volume is roughly 1.9 MT. Because the portion of fields with average protein values between 9 and 11.5 percent and with satisfactory plumpness values is rather large, the share of malting-quality barley is estimated at almost 1.2 million MT. The average barley protein value for all of Germany is 11 percent.
This satisfactory result of the 2020 barley harvest was definitely a surprise. Only 3 percent of fields had protein values below 9 percent, while 14 percent had values above the acceptance threshold of 12.5 percent. The average plumpness rate of 93.2 percent also exceeded expectations.
Because of the dry and warm weather conditions at the beginning of the growing season, the disease level in this year’s spring barley was very low. The leaf diseases and pests that did occur could easily be treated with available plant protection measures. The warm, mostly rain-free ripening phase resulted in favorable phytosanitary conditions and, thus, optically flawless kernels. In spite of a few short interruptions from rain showers, the harvest was brought in in a dry and healthy condition.
The main varieties cultivated in 2020 were Avalon, Solist, Leandra, Quench, Accordine, and RGT Planet.
The final harvest report of the Malting Barley Association will be released in mid-November 2020.
Our thanks go out to the Deutsche Mälzerbund e.V. (German Maltsters Association) for providing random harvest samples, the analytics of which are considered in the data presented in the table in the attachment.