Crop Report #1 German Spring Barley – April 23, 2021
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 Braugersten-Gemeinschaft (Brewing Barley Association) expects the spring barley acreage to tally up to approximately 346,000 ha (roughly 840,000 acres) this year. This represents a decrease of – 4,6 % compared to the previous year. The downward trend is particularly pronounced in the western portion of the country in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Baden-Württemberg. Market analysts attribute the decline to the low premiums for brewing-quality barley compared to feed barley in spite of high overall grain prices, as well as to the narrow price gap between barley and wheat.
Once again, the 2020/21 winter in Germany was overly warm. Precipitation was average, but there were more hours of sunshine than normal. Temperatures were 1.6 °C higher than the long-term average for 1961 to 1990, a benchmark that is used as the international reference standard. This makes this past winter the tenth in a row with higher-than-normal temperatures. Only in early to mid-February did some areas of Germany experience spells of severe frosts, when temperatures dropped below – 20 °C. During the subsequent spring-like phase from early March to early April, soil conditions were predominantly good, and spring barley could be planted without problems. In North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, some 20 % of the spring barley crop was even sown as early as the fall of 2020. Overall, seeds emerged well and developed evenly in fields with sufficient soil moisture. However, a return to some very cold and changeable weather in the second half of April led to a significant slow-down in plant development.
To date, the spring barley crop has progressed normally and is in good to very good condition. Even crops that were sown last fall survived well during the frosty nights in February. The moisture supply in the soil is good to very good this year, unlike during the dry spring of last year.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Berlin Program, this year’s range of varieties is dominated by Avalon, Quench, Leandra, and Solist. In addition, there are plantings of RGT Planet and of several varieties that are being cultivated under contract.
The Brewing Barley Association will release its next crop report near the end of May.