Quality of Western Canadian malting barley 2018


Total barley production in Western Canada in 2018 is estimated at 7,997,000 tonnes, which represents an increase of 6.4% compared to 2017. The higher barley production in 2018 has been attributed to an increase in barley-seeded area this year. The total area planted with barley in Western Canada in 2018 was 2,501,000 hectares, indicating a 12.7% increase compared to the 2017 acreage. The average yield for barley in Canada is estimated at 65.0 bushels per acre in 2018 compared to 69.4 bushels per acre in 2017.

The 2018 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. The dry weather and hot conditions through the summer months over most of Western Canada reduced yield expectations. The dry growing season resulted in minimal disease pressure in most barley growing areas. The above-normal temperatures during the growing season boosted crop development, which allowed harvest to begin during the middle of August in the southern and central growing regions. Quality of the early harvested crop was very good. However, the harvest was interrupted by snowfall, frost, and wet conditions in September. Among the three western provinces, Alberta has been the most severely affected by the weather issues. The cool temperatures combined with persistent light to moderate rain/snowfall delayed the resumption of harvest until the second week of October. There was significant quality degradation in unharvested crops in the northern grain belt.

The 2018 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.

CDC Copeland (46.3%), AC Metcalfe (29.8%), and AAC Synergy (11.2%) dominated the portfolio of malting barley cultivars grown in Western Canada in 2018, representing together 87.3% of total area seeded with malting barley. Overall, the quality of barley selected for malting in 2018 was good. The content of protein in barley grain averaged at 11.9% dry basis (db) in 2018, slightly higher compared to the last year (11.5% db) and to the long-term average values (11.6% db).The average kernel size and kernel weight of barley grain in 2018 were higher than last year and long-term average values. The rapid visco analysis (RVA) test indicated that the majority of barley samples tested in 2018 survey were sound, with very low incidence of pre-harvest sprouting.

Barley exhibited excellent germination energy and showed little evidence of water sensitivity. The levels of enzymes (diastatic power and α-amylase) in malts of the most common barley cultivars (CDC Copeland and AC Metcalfe) were slightly higher in 2018 compared to the last year and long-term average values. Malt made from 2018 barley resulted in malt extract levels, close to the long-term average values. Wort was characterized by slightly higher than average levels of β-glucans, but viscosity remained acceptable. 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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