The UK malting industry purchases approximately 1.9M tonnes of malting barley every year.

Around 460,000t of winter barley and 1.45M tonnes of spring barley, are used to produce 1.55M tonnes of malt. Predominantly spring barley is used for producing malt for distilling and lager type brewing malt, whilst winter varieties are used mainly in the production of ale and food malts.

What the maltster wants

Maltsters usually purchase their barley through the agricultural merchant trade, a large proportion of which will be from contracts placed with specific growers on behalf of the maltster.

Pre-harvest contracts have a number of advantages including ensuring the correct varieties are grown and that there will be an end market for the crop. The contract will specify those grain parameters that are key to the successful production of malt, including:

  • Target grain nitrogen
  • Minimum germination
  • Grain size
  • Maximum moisture and food safety requirements

The importance of matching the right variety to the end market and the situation on farm, is a crucial first step towards meeting the contract specification.

Select a suitable variety for your target market. An understanding of local market opportunities is important before committing to a variety.

Manage disease to protect
yield and quality

Yield in barley is built from the whole plant so it is vital to protect all the leaves, the stem, spikelets (awns) and ear from disease. As barley is usually limited by grain number and tiller number, it is vital to control disease from early in the season to maintain a disease free crop from tillering onwards.

The main foliar diseases which should be guarded against are net blotch, rhynchosporium, ramularia and to a lesser extent mildew. Brown rust should also be considered in the spray strategy as well, particularly later in the season.

SDHIs and triazoles are important pillars of disease control in barley crops. Adexar, containing fluxapyroxad + epoxiconazole is an ideal fungicide for disease protection.

For more information on what the maltster wants and growing barley:

Download our latest booklet Barley – A grower’s guide

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