Canadian breeders have produced a promising suite of new malting barley varieties. Registered in recent years, varieties such as AAC Connect, CDC Bow and CDC Fraser are successors to older cultivars such as AC Metcalfe and CDC Copeland.
Like the ale versus lager taste debate, the decision to grow malt or feed barley has strong proponents on both sides. As barley farmers ponder their crop options for the coming year, the choice has been complicated by an unusual development: “intent to grow” contracts for malting barley priced below that of feed barley. This erosion of the price premium for malting barley may have implications for maltsters and farmers.
As the newest malting barley varieties increase their individual shares of prairie acreage, Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) managing director Peter Watts says strong agronomic and end-use qualities will continue to drive their adoption.
If harvest is a party, then Fusarium head blight (FHB) is best left off the guest list. When it comes to malt barley production, an outbreak of FHB can cost a farmer malt status due to kernel discoloration, microbial load and the presence of even a low level of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON).
With the explosion of craft brewing comes a food waste problem. Spent grain accounts for about 85 per cent of brewing byproduct. Big breweries generate thousands of tonnes daily that is sold or given away as animal feed. Craft breweries, especially those in urban areas, don’t produce enough to make its distribution as feed financially viable. They have little choice, but to dispose of it as compost.