Crop Report #2 German 2018 Spring Barley
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Based on preliminary assessments by the German state agricultural associations involved with brewing barley, the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V. (German Malting Barley Association) has compiled this status report for German 2018 spring barley plantings. The combined acreage under spring barley cultivation in Germany is about 400,000 ha, which is some 20% more than in the previous year.
As the 2017/2018 winter dragged on, sowing was delayed, but a change in the weather in the first week of April allowed plantings to catch up quickly. Soil conditions were generally good at that time because the previous winter had not only been long but also fairly rainy. Thus, there was an ample supply of residual moisture in the ground. As it turned out, this was a good thing because temperatures in April 2018 ended up being 5°C above the long-term average. This made this April the warmest on record since 1881 when records started to be kept. In May, too, temperatures were above average by about 2.5°C. This provided the plants with exceptionally warm weather and plenty of sunshine. Precipitation, however, clocked in at a significant deficit for April and May combined. It was about 25 percent below the long-term average. There were 126 hours of sunshine during the two months, which is about 30 percent more than the average for the same period between 1961 and 1990.
These heat and drought conditions affected the malting barley crop in several ways and are now the key focus of forecasts. On the positive side, the moist soil and the dry and sunny weather around planting time got seed imbibition off to a good start. The young plants were able to form good root systems without any interference from rainfall. This prepared them well for the long dry spell that was to follow.
The hot temperatures in May, however, which were accompanied by dry easterly winds, affected tillering negatively. Fortunately, starting in mid-May, the situation eased somewhat in several regions because of localized precipitation. Also as a result of weather conditions, the stalks remained generally short, and the overall health of the plants now looks good. There was generally very little reason to employ growth inhibitors to keep the stalks short or to fight diseases. In spite of some losses from drought in some fields, therefore, the harvest in the key areas for malting barley cultivation in Germany is still expected to be average. The weather and precipitation patterns over the next few weeks will be decisive for the booting and heading phase of the crop, and thus for such quality parameters as plumpness, homogeneity, and protein content.
The barley varieties grown in Germany in 2018 are mostly those recommended by the Berlin Program. These are Avalon, Quench, Soloist, and RGT Planet. The German Malting Barley Association will release its 2018 harvest forecast for German malting barley around the middle of the year.
For the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V.