Crop Report #2 German 2021 – Spring Barley
Based on the first reliable data for the cultivation area of German brewing barley, as well as additional estimates by various state agricultural associations, the German Braugersten-Gemeinschaft (Brewing Barley Association) has compiled its most recent crop report for spring barley. Contrary to initial estimates which were based primarily on seed sales and expert predictions, the actual area under spring barley cultivation in Germany is 17% smaller than was originally anticipated. This has reduced the new count substantially to approximately 300,000 hectares (roughly 741,000 acres). There are several reasons for this reduction. Perhaps most significant is the sharp rise in feed barley prices and the resulting decrease in the brewing barley premium. In addition, the market has generated lucrative offers for other crops, such as spelt, which created further incentives for farmers to abandon spring barley plantings this year. Finally, the pandemic-induced uncertainty caused by significant drops in demand for beer in national and international markets may also account for some hesitancy at the farm level. Yet, none of these arguments may be entirely convincing, considering that Germany has been a net importer of brewing barley for years. Also, Germany’s own crop tends to be of high quality, which makes it attractive to regional buyers who value uncomplicated logistics. Then there is the growing tendency in Germany to sow several spring barley varieties already in the fall. This skews the country’s brewing barley statistics because such crops are counted as winter barley at the time of planting but are marketed as brewing barley once they are harvested. This trend is also reflected in a decline in German feed barley cultivation which, according to various state agricultural associations, is more rapid than the drop in barley quantities offered to the malting and brewing industries.
The spring this year in Germany was mostly very cool and rainy, which was of great benefit to all grain stocks. In the barley sector, the overall health of the crop is excellent and plant protection measures were usually effective. This has given rise to an expectation that the 2021 harvest will be above-average in terms of both quality and quantity, even though the development of the crop has lagged slightly behind the long-term average. Soil moisture levels have been sufficient from emergence to tillering to inflorescence. For the flowering and ripening stages, however, additional precipitation will be needed in all regions. Because of the ample water supply thus far, the plants have developed shallow roots. This caused some concern during a hot spell in mid-June when the soils became too dry. Fortunately, in several regions, thunderstorms provided the necessary rainfall without causing damage.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Berlin Program, this year’s range of varieties is dominated by Avalon, Leandra, Amidala, and Solist. In addition, there are plantings of RGT Planet and of several varieties that are being cultivated under contract. The table in the attachment provides an overview of the acreages under cultivation and of plant development in the different federal states.
Because of the different regional measures to contain the corona virus, several traditional brewing barley inspection tours had to be cancelled. For tour dates, visit www.braugerstengemeinschaft.de.
For the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V.