New malting barley offers significant advances

WHILE there may not be a great deal of enthusiasm in the malting barley market currently among either buyers or growers, it’s important to take a long-term view of the crop’s potential.

One direction in which this looks brighter is the development of new spring varieties offering significant advances in both yield and quality.

So says Nickerson, which is making this particular claim for its new spring malting type Concerto.

Speaking at the variety’s launch, Bob King, commercial director of Crisp Malting Group underlined the importance to farmers and buyers of keeping the malting market stimulated through diversity and distinguishable crop traits, given the dominance over the past decade of a single variety, Optic.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining a UK presence in the malting barley export market, a sector which has halved in the last decade despite sterling exchange advantages.

“There’s no doubt that there is currently a great deal of carryover of crop influencing prices,” said Mr King.

“For 2009-10, there’s around 2.78m tonnes of malting barley looking for a home, while demand is likely to be around 1.72m tonnes, leaving a surplus of more than 1m tonnes. Big plantings across the UK, and elsewhere in Europe last year, coincided with a significant drop in usage, mainly due to falling beer sales.

“But there are some brighter spots in terms of price prospects. Chinese consumption of beer, and hence malt, has continued to grow, the 2009-10 UK winter malting area is down.

“The UK spring area is likely to drop back to 2006-7 levels, while demand should remain at 2009 levels - it’s unlikely to rise until the economy appears to be coming out of recession.

“Much will depend on crop quality this harvest, though - a good crop will mean another malting surplus; a bad one - especially in a couple of major producer countries - may tighten supplies.”

Concerto has provisional approval for both malting and distilling and offers significant progress in terms of quality and additional yield, at 109 over control in the east, and 107 nationally, said Mark Glew, Nickerson’s senior barley breeder. “Both brewers and distillers like its hot water extract, while maltsters like its yield potential and overall quality, which make for secure supply and reliable malting,” he said.

“The variety is on France’s CBMO list, which opens up export possibilities to Europe through south coast ports.”

A Minstrel x Westminster cross, Concerto is rated 8 for mildew resistance, 7 for brown rust and 4 for rynchosporium. It scores 7 for resistance to both lodging and brackling.

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