Grain buyers to adjust malting barley contract standards

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NFU of Scotland has welcomed news that major grain buyers are adjusting their contract standards for malting barley to take account of this year’s difficult growing conditions.

This year’s unusually cold weather has caused many problems for farmers, including those growing malting barley. Some of the most popular varieties, specified by customers in their forward contracts, have been badly affected by skinning, where 25 per cent or more of the husk has failed to adhere to the rest of the grain.

Diageo, one of Scotland’s largest buyers of malting barley has decided to take account of this and to increase the level of maximum skinning that it will accept.

Welcoming this news NFUS Combinable Crops Committee Chairman Ian Sands commented: “We have had reports of skinning percentages well above the contract specifications so we very much welcome the decision by Diageo, mirrored by some other buyers, to increase the skinning allowance.

“Spring malting barley for whisky production is our most important cereal crop. We want to be able to supply the maltsters and distillers with what they want, and they want to buy it here rather than elsewhere. This decision will help fulfil the wishes of both buyers and sellers.

“Ideally we would have liked the limits to be raised even further as even with the new limits some crops will not be accepted – and that means a much poorer price for growers. However, we understand that maltsters have encountered problems of pre-germination when they have tried to process grain with very high levels of skinning.

“This is not the first time that we have had major problems with skinning. Levy contributions made by growers are being used to fund research into the causes and cures for skinning.

“Looking forward, we need to have varieties that meet the requirements of maltsters and distillers while at the same time allowing growers to meet quality standards even in difficult years such as this.”

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