Quality of Western Canadian malting barley 2016
Total barley production in Western Canada in 2016 is estimated at 8,371,500 tonnes, which represents an increase of about 7.5% compared to 2015. The higher barley production in 2016 compared to 2015 was due to very high yields this year, assessed at 73.9 bushels per acre. Barley seeded area in 2016, estimated at 2,465,000 hectares, decreased by 1.9% compared to 2015.
Dry and warm conditions during April and early May of 2016 resulted in rapid planting progress; nearly 60% of the barley was planted by the second week of May, well ahead of the normal pace. Average temperatures and above average precipitation characterized the 2016 growing season across Western Canada. The above normal rainfall through July and August increased disease potential in the barley crop. Fusarium head blight was a common downgrading factor in barley grown in many regions in 2016. The barley harvest started in August and was nearly 30% complete by the beginning of September. Record or near record rainfall amounts were received in Saskatchewan and northern Alberta during the months of September and October. These rains caused serious quality deterioration in the un-harvested barley crop.
The 2016 barley harvest survey conducted by the Grain Research Laboratory and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre was based on composites of individual varieties representing one million tonnes of barley selected in Western Canada for malting by grain handling and malting companies.
Overall, the quality of barley that was selected for malting in 2016 was good with lower than average protein levels in barley grain, and heavier and plumper kernels compared with the 10-year average values. Barley germination was adequate; however, some water sensitivity was present. RVA (rapid visco analysis) indicated high incidence of pre-harvest sprouting which prompts timely processing of barley into malt. Malt made from 2016 barley resulted in very high extract levels exceeding the long-term average values. Wort was characterized by lower than average levels of soluble proteins, free amino nitrogen (FAN), and colour, slightly higher than average levels of β-glucans, but acceptable viscosity. The brewing trials conducted by the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre indicated that malts made from CDC Copeland and AC Metcalfe performed satisfactorily without posing any processing difficulties.
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