* Feed wheat replacing barley in German livestock rations
* Maltsters may have to accept lower quality supplies
By Nigel Hunt
LONDON, Sept 8 Barley harvests in western Europe
are winding down with an overall slight fall in the size of the
crop and quality also expected to decline, particularly in
Germany, crop analysts said on Thursday.
Winter barley in Germany, which is mainly used for animal
feed, suffered major damage from the triple blow of a very cold
winter, springtime drought and summer rain, according to the
The ministry estimates the winter barley crop has fallen
21.6 percent to 6.76 million tonnes.
Livestock farmers have been switching from using relatively
scarce barley to feed wheat.
"Wheat is expected to increasingly replace barley, which is
in short supply, in feeding troughs in the EU," German grain
trading house Toepfer International said in a report.
Germany is, however, expected to harvest a larger spring
barley crop after farmers replanted weather-damaged rapeseed
with spring grains.
The farm ministry estimates the spring barley crop, partly
used for beer brewing, was up 18.1 percent at 2.01 million
Frequent harvest-time rain in Germany, however, threatens to
hurt the quality of spring barley.
"The (spring barley) crop nationally is up but the quality
is very mixed," one German trader said. "It looks like malt
producers and beer brewers may have to accept lower quality than
usual in their supplies in the coming months.
FALL IN FRANCE
In France, the barley harvest shed 11 percent from last year
and 19 percent compared to the 2006-2010 average, at 9 million
tonnes, the farm ministry estimated this week.
The sharp fall was mainly linked to a 10 percent drop in
barley yields after a severe drought that hit France until early
In terms of quality, some of the spring barley was
downgraded to animal feed because of too high protein levels.
Spring barley amounts to around one third of the total barley
crop in France.
Britain's winter barley harvest in complete while 30 percent
of the spring barley remains in the fields, mostly in Scotland
where progress has been hampered by rain, crop consultants ADAS
said in a report on Thursday.
Production should follow in a similar pattern to Germany
with a smaller winter barley crop offset by a rise in spring
Spring barley plantings in Britain rose 10 percent this
year, reflecting strong malting premiums in the run-up to last
year's harvest, while winter barley area slipped 8 percent,
according to a planting survey issued by the Home-Grown Cereals
Winter barley yields are seen falling to 6.1 to 6.2 tonnes
per hectare, down from a five-year average of 6.5 tonnes while
ADAS estimated spring barley yields on par with the average of
Spain is the only major producer in western Europe to
harvest a significantly larger barley crop this year.
The barley has been in for more than a month and rose by 4.5
percent from last year's disappointing crop to some 8.5 million
tonnes after an unusually wet spring, according to preliminary
Dealers say about 1 million tonnes is of malting quality
while the rest goes to animal feed. Spain can be self-sufficient
in barley, but only with bumper crops like the 11.3 million
tonnes harvested in 2008.
(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg, Martin
Roberts in Madrid and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris)