Crop Report #2 German Spring Barley, June 2020
Based on reports prepared by the malting barley associations of the different states, the German Brewing Barley Association has compiled an up-to-date status report about this year’s spring barley crop; and the news is decidedly mixed. The planted area this year is roughly 349,000 hectares (some 862,400 acres), which is only slightly below that of the previous year. However, the extremely dry and warm spring has left its mark in all growing regions. Even though there has been some precipitation during the past few weeks, it was not enough to alleviate the severe drought conditions everywhere.
The damage is mostly in the form of low plant densities and inhomogeneous crops — conditions that are expected to prevail until harvest time. Plant emergence thus far has been uneven; tillering has been below average; and plant growth has been slower than normal. On the positive side, in some areas of Germany, especially in the south and southwest, the recent rainfalls were not entirely too late. Depending on seeding dates and soil conditions at the time, some plants had been able to survive the spring drought. This is mostly because they were able to form strong roots in time, which allowed them to develop normally. Overall, the late-arriving water supply, therefore, gives some hope that kernel maturation will progress well, albeit in fields with low-density stocks.
In addition to the spring drought, large parts of Germany were visited by late frosts in May, between the boot and flowering stages of winter barley. This caused large-scale freeze injury and tissue death. As a result, these crops are already destined to become whole crop silage.
The table in the attachment to this report provides an overview of the different plant development stages in the different growing regions and of the prospects for the 2020 malting barley harvest. Plant health has been largely good this year, with only sporadic fungicide treatments in recent weeks because of the damp, warm weather.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Berlin Program, the most popular varieties this year are Avalon, Quench, Solist and Leandra. In addition, there are fields with stocks of RGT Planet; and a few other varieties have been planted under cultivation contracts.
Because of the Corona virus, it was virtually impossible this year to conduct field inspection tours, which is why the German Brewing Barley Association will publish a detailed harvest forecast for the different growing regions only shortly before the harvest.