Crop Report # 1 German Spring Brewing Barley – May 16, 2022
Based on seed sales and initial acreage estimates by the agricultural organizations of the different German states, the German Brewing Barley Association (Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V.) expects about 330,000 ha (some 815,000 acres) of malting-quality spring barley to be planted in 2022. This is a year-over-year increase of roughly 20,000 ha or 11 percent. These figures include an acreage of approximately 25,000 of spring barley planted already in the fall of 2021. Increases have been particularly pronounced in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Lower Saxony, despite strong competition from other cash crops. State association experts cite high fertilizer costs, below-average market prices for spelt, and expected high costs of drying corn, as well as sufficient reserves of animal feed from the 2021 harvest, as the key reasons for the increase in acreage.
The fall of 2021 was rather dry, and this trend seemed to continue well into winter. However, little by little the situation changed as nature opened the spigot enough to create water reserves in the soil. In the end, winter precipitation in Germany totaled some 204 liters per square meter, or about 13 percent above average. In addition, there was an exceptionally long period of fine weather in March 2022. As a result, the first month of spring was mild and exceptionally sunny, with very little rainfall. This made for optimal sowing conditions in well-dried and loose soils. With stormy episodes, regionally heavy snowfalls, deep night frosts, and some early summer-like days, April was moody and mixed during the first two weeks. During the second half of the month, however, stable and dry weather prevailed; and the stocks emerged well. Sufficient precipitation also allowed fertilizer to reach the roots of the young plants in time for tillering. Therefore, the early plant development was satisfactory everywhere, but additional amounts of precipitation are already becoming necessary for tillering.
Spring barley stocks are in good to very good condition, in line with normal development stages for this time of year. The stocks sown last fall also survived the frosty nights of early April, partly because of a thin layer of snow. Currently, the water supply in the soil is just sufficient for the current vegetation stage.
The range of varieties cultivated this season are in line with the recommendations of the Berliner Program. These include Avalon, Amidala, Lexy, Leandra, and Solist. In addition, RGT Planet and several other varieties are being raised under contract.
The Brewing Barley Association will issue its next crop status report in early June.