Weather weighs on malt barley quality

Concerns surrounding this year’s crop have been across the board — from a lack of moisture, to major storms and hail, to late rain, challenges from the growing season have translated into harvest quality concerns.

RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney brought on Wendy White, grain marketing manger with Viterra on Thursday’s show to provide an update on the malt barley crop. Haney points out there’s been a lot of eyes opened when it comes to quality issues.

“So far from the samples that we’ve been seeing coming in, we do see high chit levels in our malt barley samples,” White says.

Weather fluctuations has had a major effect on chit levels. As of right now, they’re not seeing too many germination issues, but high chit levels usually means germination deteriorates which affects the overall quality of the product.

Currently there’s no real indication on what malt barley will be accepted into Viterra’s program, as White points out they usually pick the best of the best when it comes to samples, meaning what they require is somewhat of a floating target. However, she’s quick to remind producers to get their samples in early before resorting to shipping barley as feed.

“The problem is, is that the feed barley price has eroded significantly in the last week, so I think we need to be patient with malt barley, but get your samples in as fast as you can to the elevator for this early movement opportunity.”

As far as what took so long for the price of feed barley to drop?

“I said throughout the summer, we were offering attractive $4.50 plus feed barley prices, I was just shocked constantly, (with the thought of) why aren’t more farmers booking feed barley? I think it’s just a matter of, this was the type of year — whether it’s canola or wheat or barley, we did not see a lot of forward contracting, and I think we can say the same for other companies beside Viterra, as well,” she says.

“The amount of forward contracting with farmers has been lower and I think it’s because the last few harvests have been so difficult on the farmers and the quality, whether it was green canola last year or sprouted wheat, or fusarium in wheat — everybody was very nervous with their quality.”

Listen to RealAg Radio host, Shaun Haney and Viterra’s Wendy White talk about the malt barley market below.

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