The 2015 barley harvest is in and the next crop is already in the ground.
Gladfield Malt owner/director Doug Michael says this year’s crop was one of the best he’s ever seen. “The 2014/15 barley harvest was an absolute boomer! The growing season was looking promising all the way through, with a cool dry spring, which is ideal for barley to build good root reserves before going to air. Cool temperatures and dryer than normal conditions meant very little disease pressure on the crops.
“The summer proved to be one out of the box, the old Canterbury Nor’wester was back to her brilliant best with high sunshine hours during the crucial grain-fill period of December. Almost all cropping farmers in Canterbury are able to rely on irrigation nowadays, something other countries are so very envious of. We had hot temperatures and no rain in January. This meant the farmers were able to get the crop in the silo in perfect condition without any rain damage, and in most cases were able to enjoy a cold beer at the end of each day instead of panicking about what the weather was going to do tomorrow.”
Doug says one Canterbury farmer claimed a world-record harvest yielding 13.5 tonne/hectare. “As a farmer these are the years we dream about and what keeps us going through the bad seasons.”
And in a detailed report commissioned by Cryer Malt, MalteuropNZ notes the hot and dry summer made up for a slow spring. The average yields reported were 8 tonne/hectare in Canterbury and 5-6 tonne/hectare in Hawkes Bay, Manawatu and Wairarapa. Irrigated areas exceeded these averages.
The report shows barley is now New Zealand’s biggest cereal crop, and malting barley makes up about 13% of the output (the remainder is animal feed). Our malting barley production has been static for the past decade at about 50,000 tonnes/year. And, while mainstream beer production is falling, the growth of craft beer is maintaining demand.
The two main malting barleys grown in New Zealand are Jimpy and Fairview, both developed by MalteuropNZ from European varieties and bred to local conditions. Pop that into the conversation at your next beer tasting.