The Osnabrock Barley Hall was once again filled with barley, beer, and area producers to learn about the barley industry.
By Melissa Anderson
The show had three informative speakers this year to discuss everything from promising new barley varieties to market outlook and the fertilizer industry.
Martin Hochhalter, North Dakota State University(NDSU) Barley Research Agronomist and assistant barley breeder to Rich Horsley at NDSU, gave those in attendance updates on recent studies of barley varieties that NDSU has conducted at their research facility and at universities on the east coast.
Hochhalter explained that the barley market has dramatically changed over the last 20 years with the switch from feed barley to malting now accounting for 80 percent of all barley planted.
Hochhalter went over the transition that is occurring with malting barley as demand for 2-row increases rather than 6-row. Despite 6-rows popularity with adjunct brewers for its high enzymes ability to breakdown carbohydrates during the brewing process, 2-row barley is more popular among craft brewers and gaining popularity with the adjuncts for its higher malting extract.
“There is growth in the craft beer sector, 13 percent of total beer sales by volume with an annual growth of 12 to 15 percent,” Hochhalter said,” 25 percent of all malting barley is used by craft.”
With the increase in demand for 2 row barley, NDSU has been working on new varieties that are suitable for North Dakota growers. ND Genesis, which was released last year, and Lacey show promise as they show yields equal or better than current popular 6-row varieties. These two varieties also show a lower grain protein.
Hochhalter explained that while ND Genesis is showing potential, it has room for improvement which NDSU is going to try and accomplish through cross breeding with European varieties to improve the malt quality. NDSU is also addressing the weak stand characteristic of ND Genesis.
Randy Martinson of Martinson Ag Risk Management out of Fargo spoke to producers about the prospective market for barley and other crops during the upcoming growing season.
Martinson gave an overview of how the market got to where it is today following a dismal 2015 year and an optimistic 2016 market.
“Markets are overvalued right now and [soy]beans are looking at higher prices,” Martinson said,” So we are expecting higher acreage of soybeans in 2017.”
Martinson went over the wheat market outlook, explaining that last year’s crop, while a record breaking production, suffered from low quality. U.S. exports have been lackluster due to aggressive selling by Russia and Australia and the strong dollar does not help.
“We will have the lowest wheat acres planted since 1909,” Martinson said of planting predictions.
Martinson touched briefly on barley stating that the U.S. imports a vast majority of its barley that is used as a result of barley use outpacing American production.
Soybeans have the strongest demand, and Brazil is looking at a record yield for this upcoming harvest, and Argentina is just starting their harvest.
China is the largest buyer of soybeans, and Brazil has been increasing acreage of soybeans and have room to continue the increase.
“The USDA is looking at nearly 5 million more acres of soybeans planted in 2017, but yields are decreasing,” Martinson said.
One concern with the American production is how weather will impact the crops. There are drought concerns for Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, while areas that predominately grow soybeans and canola can expect excessive moisture again this year.
Trade was also discussed as being an area of concern especially with Mexico who is consistently one of the top three importers of American crops. Martinson noted that while this could be a short term problem, other long term markets would not be able to completely support Mexico’s demands.
The final presenter was Troy Schrader of Gavilion Fertilizer, LLC based in Moorhead, Minn. Schrader discussed new production facilities that were going up this year or with expected completion dates of early 2018. One such facility will be in Beulah owned by Dakota Gas. The facility will produce 363 metric tons of urea and serve North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.
Schrader noted that the U.S. is down 25 percent for nitrogen application, and producers planning to have that application should book their quantities now as there could be some very big delays in the future due to holes in a major pipeline.
Ammonium sulfate was another application that Schrader encouraged be purchased now rather than later as inventory will be thin and further problems with production will drive down supply.
“Usage is outperforming production, “ Schrader said.
Schrader finished his presentation by explaining that the major key to success this spring is forecasting needs and positioning needed product ahead of time.
“The landscape has changed and will not be returning to what is considered normal,” Schrader stated.
The 73rd Annual Barley show finished with Gary Beck of the barley council thanking the growers of barley for their continued support. Expected barley acreage in ND is 400,00 to 450,000 this year.