Opportunities abound for the barley sector

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Things are looking up for the barley market. That’s the message from the SaskBarley annual general meeting held recently during CropSphere at Saskatoon, Sask.

“I think the industry has never been stronger. We’re seeing huge exports on the feed side going into China, we’re strengthening in the malt side, both domestically and globally, and we’ve come off an excellent year with a lot of exports. It’s a strong year,”says  Jason Skotheim, chair of the SaskBarley

Increased market opportunities are a good thing, but you have to fill the demand, or someone else will. Luckily there is also good news on the production side. According to Skotheim, “We’re seeing an increase in production, not only in terms of the number of acres but in terms of the intensity, we’re seeing better yields off of barley as well.”

Barley producers are keeping a watchful eye on the consultations around seed royalties. “This is one of the things that SaskBarley is really working on in this upcoming year,” says Skotheim. “I think the stat is that around 80 percent of our varieties that are used for malt are either (AC) Metcalfe or (CDC) Copeland, and Metcalfe was (released in) 97 and Copeland in the 2002, 2003 range.”

The problem is that maltsters do not like change. Even though new varieties are being developed with better agronomic qualities, the maltsters just want what they want and what works for them. This adds an entirely unique wrinkle to the discussion of royalties in the barley industry. New varieties have to be developed and then also accepted by the maltsters or the industry will not be sustainable.

Hear the entire interview with Jason Skotheim, chair of SaskBarley, below. 

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