Beer drinkers and farmers can rejoice. The Canadian malt barley crop was the largest and best quality in years.
Pat Rowan of Anheuser Busch said it’s the largest yielding crop he’s seen in his 30 years of buying malt barley for the brewing industry.
“It’s a huge, huge crop,” said Rowan, who added it wasn’t uncommon for farmers to harvest 100 bushel per acre crops this fall.
“It’s incredible. The big question is how to store it and how to brew it,” said Rowan, of Winnipeg.
Statistics Canada estimated this fall’s Canadian barley production to increase 18.1 percent from 2012 to 9.2 million tonnes.
It estimated yields averaged 68.2 bu. per acre, up from 54.1 bu. per acre last year.
Generally, less than 25 percent of the barley crop is selected for malt.
On top of bin-busting yields, this year’s crop is showing high quality with ideal protein levels, with few downgrades for chitting or sprouting.
“It’s a very, very good year for barley. The quality was excellent. You remember good years like this,” said Rowan.
New Norway, Alta., farmer Ross Keller received preliminary reports of his samples back from maltsters and all were accepted as malt.
The protein levels ranged from 10 to 12.1 percent, but most were in the low 11 percent range.
The plumpness of the Copeland and Meredith varieties ranged from 90 to 96, moisture was in the low 13 percent range and the preliminary germination was good.
This week, Keller plans to haul some of the contracted crop to Rahr Malting, at Alix, Alta.
The strong contract price and early delivery will prompt Keller to seed malt in the future.
“I don’t see it going away. It works. It helps pay the bills.”
Kevin Sich of Rahr Malting said he is seeing plenty of high volume, high quality malt at the plant.
“You can never have too much good quality barley.”
Sich said some of the malt barley fields yielded two tonnes per acre, compared to the Alberta average of 1.3 tonnes per acre.
“The volume this year is way above average,” he said.
The early harvested crop came off in excellent quality. Showers mid-harvest created some chitting de-pending on the amount or rain and the stage of crop, he said.
Brent McBean of Strathmore said this year’s bumper crop is a testament to good genetics, good farming practices and good weather.
“We’ve had so many good, wet years,” said McBean who farms in the Vulcan and Gleichen areas.
McBean said his Vulcan yields were average with decent quality, but the crops at the Gleichen farm were outstanding, especially for the two-row Meredith barley.
“It was the perfect year for barley. It is amazing what it can do when it gets rain.”