Crop Report #1 – German Spring Barley, April 2020
Spring barley plantings in Germany are now complete. Based on the amount of seeds purchased by farmers and on initial estimates by the German state agricultural associations, the total acreage of spring barley planted in Germany this year is about 345,000 ha, which represents a small decrease of -3% compared to the previous year. The winter of 2019/20 was very mild and has gone down in history as the second warmest winter ever, since records began in 1781. Average temperatures were +3.9°C higher than during the reference period (1981–2010). There was also an abundance of precipitation of 225 liters per square meter (l/m²), which was +23% above normal. This provided a good moisture balance in the soil. Only Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Thuringia had rainfalls of just below 90 l/m², with soils showing water deficits at the end of winter. Overall, spring barley could be planted very compactly throughout the month of March, with soils in good to very good conditions. Most seeds emerged well and evenly with sufficient residual moisture in the soil, except for a few locations, where the water deficit necessitated a second sowing.
Following the sowing, however, Germany experienced a prolonged period of next to no precipitation — a repeat, unfortunately, of the previous year. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), less than 10 l/m² of rain fell between March 14 and April 18, 2020. At the same time, on many days, plenty of sunshine, very low air humidity and brisk to strong winds resulted in high evaporation losses that turned the topsoil extremely dry. Precipitation has been announced for the 1st weekend in May, but it is not likely that this will have a significant and lasting impact on the current drought conditions across the land. The first visible signs of drought damage have already been reported in many winter cereals and rapeseeds. The amount of rainfall in the coming weeks, therefore, will be decisive for the further development of this year’s spring barley crop.
The varieties planted this year follow by and large the recommendations of the Berlin Program. They are primarily Avalon, Quench, Solist and Leandra. In addition, RGT Planet and several other varieties are being cultivated under contract.
The German Malting Barley Association will release the next crop report towards the end of May.