Quality of Western Canadian malting barley 2017


Total barley production in Western Canada in 2017 is estimated at 7,516,400 tonnes, which represents a decrease of 10.2% compared to 2016. The lower barley production in 2017, compared to 2016, can be attributed to reduced barley yields and a decline in barley seeded area this year. The average barley yield in 2017 is estimated at 69.8 compared to 73.9 bushels per acre in 2016. The total area planted with barley in Western Canada in 2017 was 2,219,000 hectares, indicating a 10% decrease compared to the 2016 acreage.

The 2017 spring planting in most areas of Western Canada was completed by the first week of June. Dry conditions in the southern regions created some establishment problems, especially for late seeded crops. Above normal temperatures and mostly dry conditions prevailed during June and July over most of Western Canada. The primary barley growing areas in Western Canada experienced stress which reduced yield expectations. However, good subsoil moisture reserves and scattered rainfall in northern and central Saskatchewan helped keep yields from dropping significantly from normal. The dry growing season resulted in minimal disease pressure in most barley growing areas. The dry weather and warmer than normal conditions prevailed through August and early September which allowed the barley harvest to proceed at a rapid pace.

The 2017 barley harvest survey conducted by the Grain Research Laboratory (GRL) and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) was 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.

Overall, the dry growing season in 2017 resulted in ample supply of excellent malt quality barley with slightly lower than average protein levels, and heavier and plumper kernels compared with the 10-year average values. Barley exhibited very high germination energy and vigour with little evidence of water sensitivity. The rapid visco analysis (RVA) test indicated that the majority of barley samples tested in 2017 was sound with very low incidence of pre-harvest sprouting.

Malt made from 2017 barley resulted in high levels of malt extract. The levels of soluble proteins and free amino nitrogen (FAN) in worts were slightly lower than the long term average values. The levels of enzymes (diastatic power and α-amylase) in malts were adequate and close to the long term average values. Well-modified malts resulted in worts with low viscosity and low level of β-glucans. The brewing trials indicated that malts made from CDC Copeland, AC Metcalfe, and AAC Synergy performed satisfactorily without posing any processing difficulties.

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