2018 Delivers an Overall Good-Quality Crop

January 27, 2019

The overall quality of barley selected for malting in 2018 was good – protein content, kernel size and kernel weight were all higher than 2017 and the long-term average. These findings are part of a report co-authored by the Grain Research Laboratory (GRL) and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC).

This was reassuring news following a season full of challenging weather conditions for malting barley growers. Dry, hot weather for most of the season lowered yield expectations, but the above-normal temperatures boosted crop development. This allowed harvest to begin mid-August in the southern and central growing regions. Those who got their crop off early were rewarded with very good quality. For others, however, harvest was interrupted in September by snowfall, frost, and wet conditions. The cool temperatures combined with persistent light to moderate rain/snowfall delayed harvest until the second week of October.

Malting barley quality report highlights

Highlights of the season are summarized in ‘Quality of Western Canadian Malting Barley 2018,’ which is an annual publication featuring results of the barley harvest survey conducted by the GRL and CMBTC. The 2018 report is based on composites of individual varieties representing over two million tonnes of barley selected in Western Canada for malting by grain handling and malting companies. Here are some notable findings:

  • Barley exhibited excellent germination energy and little evidence of water sensitivity. 
  • The majority of samples had very low incidence of pre-harvest sprouting.
  • The levels of enzymes in malts of the most common barley cultivars were slightly higher in 2018 compared to 2017 and to long-term average values.
  • Brewing trials indicated that malts made from CDC Copeland, AC Metcalfe, and AAC Synergy performed satisfactorily without posing any processing difficulties.

Increase in total barley production

The GRL and CMBTC report also provides a snapshot of barley production across the Prairies. Total barley production is estimated at about 7.9 million tonnes in 2018. This is an increase of 6.4% compared to 2017. The report suggests that a rise in barley-seeded area contributes to this jump in barley production.

The average barley yield in Western Canada is estimated at 65 bushels per acre in 2018, which is down about 4.4 bushels per acre from 2017. In addition, the total area seeded to barley in 2018 was 2.5 million hectares (over 6 million hectares), indicating a 13% increase compared to the 2017 acreage.

Provincial breakdowns can be viewed in the full report located here on the Canadian Grain Commission website.

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