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72nd Annual ND State Barley Show held in Osnabrock

The annual North Dakota State Barley Show was once again held in Osnabrock.

Barley Show graphic

Posted on 3/26/16

By Melissa Anderson

The show has been held annually since 1946 when it resumed after a four year hiatus during World War II.

“A lot of things were started right here, and one of them was the Barley Council,” Charles Ottem, Secretary-Treasurer for the Barley show, said.

Ottem has been the Secretary-Treasurer for the ND State Barley Show for past 30 years and announced his retirement at this year’s show. The Secretary-Treasurer position will be taken over by Justin Balsdon.

The Barley Show presentations opened with Martin Hochhalter, a barley research agronomist working at North Dakota State University( NDSU), developing a new variety of barley. Hochhalter is the assistant breeder in the program that is developing a new variety of two row barley called ND Genesis which was announced at last year’s show.

Hochhalter compared the ND Genesis to other barley varieties that are used, both six row and two row. Hochhalter stated that NDSU had entered the ND Genesis variety into a national barley study which took place across the nation. The results of that one study has given information to the research agronomist at NDSU data which otherwise would have taken years to produce.

The most popular and established  two row variety that Hochhalter compared the ND Genesis variety to is Pinnacle. When compared, the ND Genesis has a 3 to 5 percent yield advantage, a slightly higher malt extract, lower beta-glucan and, a lower accumulation of DON.

ND Genesis has also shown to have a slightly better resistance to net form, net blotch,  and spot blotch than Pinnacle. It also has a better resistance to the spot form of net blotch.

However, ND Genesis has a slightly weaker straw but both have a similar maturity grain protein and diastatic power. ND Genesis has a higher wort protein, S/T and alpha-amylase activity than Pinnacle.

Hochhalter stated that while in North Dakota the most commonly grown barley is six row, the demand for two row barley is being driven by the craft brewing sector as two row has a higher malt extract. The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) in their most recently published guidelines to breeders highlight the changing trend from six row barley to two row malt barley being the most desirable.

Frayne Olson, a crop economist and marketing specialist with the NDSU Extension Service in Fargo gave a presentation on the crop outlook. Olson gave a brief history of the markets for corn and soybeans, explaining the concept of carry over crops that have an effect on the projected market prices for crops in the next year.

Olson explained that the combination of record production, low oil costs, and a strong dollar have an impact on the price of commodities in regards to the ability to export what is not needed for domestic use.

The corn and soybean markets, when consumption by domestic markets has been reached, must turn to the international markets to drive up the price.

“If the dollar isn’t performing as strongly, then it is easier to trade internationally,” Olson explained.

Olson stated that all it takes is one ‘hiccup’ somewhere in the production of the crop to cause the national stockpile to fall and the price to rise. The last three years have seen record production in corn, soybeans, and barley, but the usage of these crops domestically has remained relatively stable with little to no demand in the international market.

“With usage stable, the hiccups in the market and prices come from production issues,” Olson stated,” We have low prices yes , but they won’t be here forever. “

Olson said the two biggest impactors on prices are weather and politics. Olson noted that many countries that would normally be a big importer of American crops currently have weaker currencies due to the decline in oil prices. Countries such as Canada, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, which have their economies tied to exporting crude oil, suffer when oil prices drop, and as a result so does the value of their respective currencies.

“The States, being a major consumer of crude, when oil prices are down the dollar is stronger,” Olson said.

The next presenter was Langdon Research Extension Center  specialist on soil health, Naeem Kalwar.

Kalwar explained how excess soil water creates an unhealthy growing environment and leads to high soil salinity and sodicity. Soil salinity deprives plants of soil water, and soil sodicity destroys the soil structure.

Options to combat this include planting crops that have high water usage such as alfalfa and salt tolerant grass mixes. Another option is doing soil amendments to help bring the pH of the soil closer to being conducive to plant growth. The last option that Kalwar suggests, should the other two not produce desired results, is drain tiling.

Another major impact on overall soil health is soil erosion. This can take place in various forms including wind, water, and tillage erosion. Producers in Cavalier County can face all three.

Wind and water erosion can be managed with such options as planting shelter belts and cover crops. Tillage erosion can be reduced by operating tilling equipment at the lowest recommended speed and reduce tilling intensity.

Overall, Kalwar stated that soil erosion can be avoided with reduced tillage, planting of cover crops, or allowing volunteer crops and grasses to grow. Soil health threatened by excess water that can lead to salinity and sodicity can be managed and reduced by planting salt tolerant mix that uses a lot of water such as an oat, barley and sugar beet mix.

“If farmers backed off fall tillage, in two to three years they could get into the field sooner in the spring,” Kalwar stated in closing,” This will also benefit the soil and subsequent crops grown. “

The final presentations were given by Steve Edwardson, Executive Administrator for the North Dakota Barley Council, and Doyle Lentz, Chairman of the North Dakota Barley Council.

Edwardson spoke about the impact the craft brewing industry is having not only on barley demand but on what the future holds in regards to that impact as the popularity of craft brewing increases.

Currently, craft brewers represent approximately 30 percent of the U.S. market for malt.  This could increase to as much as 40 percent in the future. As a result, the malting industry is targeting craft beers as they are a significant component to the marketing of malt. This benefits growers of malt barley as it creates a consistent market that is not going away but will only grow.

For its part, the North Dakota Barley Association along with the National Barley Growers Association provide education to craft brewers as way to make them more knowledgeable about malt barley. Some topics include how barley is produced, where it grows the best, and the different varieties grown in the U.S. and Europe. There is also a barley field school offered to craft brewers during the summer at NDSU.

Lentz discussed the efforts that the North Dakota Barley Council  is undertaking to spread the message of “No Barley, No Beer” not only within the state but the nation.

Domestically, Lentz explained the efforts made at education Master Brewers Association of America on the barley production trends as well as procurement strategies.

Representatives of the barley growers attend craft brewing conferences as a way to develop relationships within the craft brewing industry and also explain the importance of malt to make sure that the craft brewers understand.

Internationally, the events such as the World Brewing Congress and the World Barley, Malt,  and Beer Conference provide an opportunity for growers to update buyers on barley production risks and crop enterprise selection at the farm level.

Overall, Lentz believes that the future of barley is in continuous education of the industry and those industries dependent on barley for their goods.

“Many buyers are young and have no background in production agriculture,” Lentz said,” We need to help buyers understand farm production risks, crop rotations, and risk management strategies.”

Lentz closed the show by stating that the North Dakota Barley Council and the National Barley Growers Association will continue to provide education on barley and promote North Dakota as a significant and reliable supplier.