Barley growers delivering to Boortmalt were hit with a few surprises on grain specifications this week and look set to be hit with a drying and energy charge.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that the company is set to introduce a drying and energy charge of €12.50/t on all grain this harvest, except in the case of barley for which the price has already been fixed.

The moisture bonus and penalty is also set to rise to €3/t.

As growers harvested barley, they were also informed that the split of brewing and distilling barley of 70% and 30% respectively will not be worked out in-house this year and the farmer will have to supply this split on an individual basis, a difficult task at harvest time when crop management is complete. Any surplus barley will be paid at feed price, according to Boortmalt.

No leeway

There is also no leeway on brewing and distilling specifications. Distilling barley must be under 8.8% protein, while brewing must be between 8.8% and 10.8%.

Added to this, there is now a cut-off for kilogrammes per hectolitre (KPH) or bushel.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands a bonus of 50c/t will be paid for each point on the KPH scale above 64, while barley will be rejected at a KPH below 63.

The Irish Farmers Journal asked Boortmalt for grain specifications at the Teagasc Malting Barley Forum in the spring, but no clear answer was given and asked again in early July, but the company refused to provide a comment at that time.

Yield and quality

However, it should be noted that quality so far is excellent, with KPH levels in the high 60s, so this is unlikely to be an issue.

Yields are also reported to be good. However, meeting distilling and brewing requirements could prove difficult.

Malting barley price

Some growers have fixed 40% of their barley at €260/t. There were opportunities to sell at €250/t and €270/t before price averaging started.

The average price of the Free-On-Board (FOB) Creil currently stands at €418.82/t. The harvest price is calculated on the average FOB Creil price from mid-April to mid-September.