Harvest Forecast: German 2020 Spring Barley
This year’s spring barley harvest has started in scattered locations across Germany. Assuming the weather cooperates, the main threshing season will be late July to early August. In recent weeks, a few field inspections have taken place, but only in small groups and by remote video. The usual malting barley tours had to be cancelled. Based on sample counts and assessments by various stakeholders in the German federal states, the Braugersten-Gemeinschaft (Brewing Barley Association) has drawn up its first harvest forecast.
The cultivation acreage for spring barley in Germany remained virtually unchanged from the previous year at approximately 357,000 ha. A spring drought caused an uneven emergence of the crop, as well as patchy, low-density stocks. These conditions will not improve between now and the harvest. In addition, in certain regions, cold nights and sometimes extreme rains in May have caused kernels to be shriveled up and sterile. Especially in low density stocks, the late rainfalls also led to secondary tillering, some of which is still in the ripening stage. This could become a problem during threshing, and thus a quality issue.
As a result of the extreme drought in the spring and the difficult conditions during the crop’s early development, yield expectations are below average in most states. For Germany as a whole, the average spring barley yield will likely be less than 5 metric tons (MT) per hectare (less than 92 bushels per acre); or about 1.5 million MT for the entire country. Moderate temperatures during the fruit development phase combined with sufficient rainfall allowed for good kernel development; and the protein content is expected to be average in most growing regions. Protein forecasts, however, are still iffy without actual harvest results. Assuming an average protein content of 11 percent and a plumpness selection of 90 percent (kernel diameter ≥ 2.5 mm), the amount of malting-quality barley might eventually be about 1.175 million MT, despite the low yield per hectare. This is a best-of-circumstances forecast because the crop is still on the field and requires a stable weather situation so that the harvest can be brought in healthy and dry. The most common varieties cultivated this year were Avalon, Leandra, Accordine, Quench, and RGT Planet.
In closing, we wish to emphasize that the values in the attached table are mere estimates that are not yet based on actual threshing results.