We had an excellent webinar in early July that looked at Crop 2020–from planting to harvest. For those that were unable to join us, we are excited to bring you this summary from Origin Malt’s Director of Procurement as a recap!
Crop 2020–from seed to sip
Harvest of Crop 2020 was completed as of early July and resulted in over 9,500 acres of harvested Puffin– Origin Malt’s exclusive 2-Row Winter barley variety. This acreage was a significant increase of +6,300 acres harvested compared to Crop 2019.
Many things impact how much barley is planted and successfully harvested during a crop year cycle but, when looking objectively at just Origin Malt’s crop 2020 yield numbers alone, we are receiving reports of higher than average yields overall. Higher yields mean that many of our direct contract family farms are becoming more highly skilled in managing their acreage. From the number of seeds per acre, to the timing of nitrogen applications, to the soil type, and even the geography of the field they choose to plant in–all of these factors and more play a role in the grower’s success. That being said, our results to date show that across the Origin Malt supply chain our growers’ skill level has increased, which means our region’s institutional knowledge of how to raise high-quality malting barley is being re-established and will continue to be honed.
So many things can affect agricultural products that are out of a grower’s control — weather being one of the most impactful. In previous years we have seen everything from early freezes, to heavy spring rains, and in early May of this year was no different. Across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic temperatures dipped to frosty levels. Considering that much of the barley in the region was fully headed by this time and more sensitive to frosty temps, mother nature rattled our nerves. While barley is tolerant of cold weather while it’s in dormancy, it’s active growing season is more sensitive to extremely cold temperatures. Depending on the specific growth stage, even as little as fifteen minutes of frosty temps can cause damage.
The tolerance of barley to temperature variance is based on a barley variety’s genetics, and in Puffin’s case, it has proven to have excellent winter hardiness, even surviving past, harsh winter vortexes. This year, across our growing region the frost and freeze event did occur in the later stage of the barley plant’s life cycle. For some Origin Malt growers this was early enough not to see an impact, while others experienced some minor frost damage (<10-15%) in their fields. We were thankful that the low temperatures didn’t persist longer than they did. Luckily, Origin Malt has a network of growers across many states to help diversify our procurement across several states for maintaining continuity of supply and preserving consistency of barley quality that enters the supply chain.
Quality samples of Crop 2020 are still under evaluation and thus far show excellent low protein and low DON results.
Every year a majority of our farm producers enjoy stellar yields of the highest quality while others face the challenges that Midwest winters can present to winter crops. Mother Nature is truly the one in charge and we are making the best of it. Our small team works with every farmer to resolve issues and optimize the outcomes. Thanks to all of our farmers for being on this journey with us!
In addition to quality testing, micromalting is underway to assess Crop 2020 as finished malt and understand how the crop will perform within our portfolio of products, which brings us to the SIP! This evaluation stage in determining a crop’s functionality as malt is an important next step for Origin Malt and all of our partners. How a crop performs in the field, then in the malt house, and ultimately in the brewhouse or distillery is likely to vary from crop year to crop year. It’s with our talented team of experts and our ability to optimize and create seamless transitions through evaluation, careful malting, and of course intentional product development that brings you the best that Crop 2020 can deliver!