12 July 2022, UK: Despite being lower yielding than the highest feed wheats in the hybrid barley and 2 row conventional feed barley sectors, winter malting barley is commanding a high price with premiums above the feed price, for achieving the right quality and growing the right variety.
Winter malting barley splits the risk for the malting barley industry, so it is not wholly reliant on a spring crop. Specialist varieties for the craft ale sector and mainstream brewing sector drive variety choice on farm, however there are agronomic differences between these varieties which allow growers to pick the right fit for their farm.
CRAFT is the number one winter malting barley in the UK, with the largest area grown and the largest percentage of the barley grain purchased by UK maltsters. The demand for this variety is certainly strong and most maltsters across England will take this variety. CRAFT is a very consistent variety, with similar yields across all regions of the UK however, it has always given the strongest yields in the North. Agronomically it has good, stiff straw, and overall very strong disease resistance with no major susceptibilities. CRAFT is known for its high specific weight and big, bold grains with low screenings, making it popular on farm and in the maltings.
ELECTRUM is a variety growing in popularity. Recommended and achieving MBC approval a few years later than CRAFT, ELECTRUM is building its following. Growers should check locally for contracts to ensure its market. Where ELECTRUM stands out is its early maturity. Equalling the earliest feed barleys on the AHDB Recommended List, ELECTRUM is very quick to establish, it races through its growth stages throughout the year, being one of the first varieties to reach each major application timing and ear emergence. This continues through to ripening, enabling this quality malting crop to be harvested early and stored before too much wet weather reaches it in the field. With overall strong disease resistance and high specific weight, ELECTRUM is a reliable winter malting barley that performs especially well across the whole of England.