Final Crop Report: German 2019 Spring Barley
Last year, extreme weather conditions in Germany resulted in a very heterogeneous spring barley crop, which is why representative data about the crop became available only very late and could not be compiled reliably until the end of 2019. This also explains the lateness of this report.
As always, the current (and final) 2019 spring barley harvest report issued by the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V. (the German Brewing Barley Association) is based on data gathered by the various Agriculture Institutes and Chambers of Agriculture in the different German states. The data is obtained from random samples collected for qualitative analyses in the various regions and from samples required for compiling a quantitative assessment of harvest volumes. All statistical results featured here represent averages compiled from an unusually wide spread of individual data points for one of the most heterogeneous harvests in recent memory. This means that these averages are more abstract constructs than they are accurate representations of the reality on the ground. Therefore, the attached table also includes data for the various protein contents, as well as for kernel plumpness above and below 80 percent of the harvested volumes, whereby plumpness is defined as kernels with a diameter of ≥ 2.5 mm. This will allow for an interpretation of the data that is more closely alignment with reality.
The total area devoted to spring barley cultivation in Germany in 2019 was approximately 360,000 hectares. This represents a 30 percent reduction compared to the exceptionally large spring barley acreage of the previous year. It also represents a return to long-term acreage levels. Against the background of extreme weather conditions and the acreage reduction, the 2019 malting barley harvest, not surprisingly, fell short of initial expectations. Once the tally of all yields is finally complete, expectations are for a total volume of about 1.16 million MT of German malting-quality barley. This total includes even marginal-quality lots, that is, those that are still being turned into malt even though their specifications are outside the optimum range preferred by the industry. For instance, an average protein level of 11.4 percent for the entire harvest suggests that a significant portion of the 2019 spring barley crop has protein levels above 11.5 percent, and even above 12.5 percent.
The average yield per hectare, however, was still a respectable 5.29 MT/ha in 2019, which is actually just slightly above that of the previous year. This result may be surprising, considering that the lack of rainfall during the kernel filling phase had a major negative impact on the percentages of plump barley in almost all growing regions. Only 72 percent of all 2019 spring barley lots produced harvests with 80 percent or more of plump kernels. The average plumpness share in 2019 was only 84.8 percent — a quality indicator that is significantly below the already low level of 91.2 percent in 2018.
On the positive side, the dry and very warm summer weather, especially in June and July, kept diseases well in check. The ripening phase, too, was hot and rain-free, which also contributed to generally excellent phytosanitary conditions. Paradoxically, therefore, the 2019 crop looked visually almost perfect.
The main varieties grown in Germany in 2019 were Avalon, Quench, Accordine, RGT Planet, Solist, and Leandra.
For the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft e.V.