63% of farmers say the lack of rain fall is impacting yields
Research commissioned by Britain’s biggest brewer Molson Coors has revealed that two thirds of Britain’s arable farmers have been affected by less rainfall and of those to have noticed a change, 94 per cent said it had impacted on yields, with 40 per cent saying the impact has been ‘very profound’ 1.
The changes in Britain’s weather and its effect on farming could have a detrimental impact on Britain’s brewing and distilling industries, which rely on 1.7m tonnes of high quality malted barley from the UK’s farmers a year. The research revealed that last spring’s drought had a major impact on the harvest for 32 per cent of barley farmers. With less rain set for 2012, far more farmers are likely to see a reduction in yield and/or problems with the nitrogen content, threatening its use in brewing.
The research discovered that 17 per cent of barley farmers are planning on cutting their planting of the crop over the next five years, which puts at risk over 96,000 hectares of malting barley fields.2
Jerry Dyson, raw materials manager at Molson Coors explains the problem:
“Weather conditions always play a major role in both the availability and the quality of malting barley and this was brought into sharp focus most recently with the winter malting barley crop of 2011. The very dry spring meant that the winter barley crop had a very high nitrogen level, which significantly reduced its value for brewing.”
NFU chief arable adviser Guy Gagen said: “Winter barley has traditionally been seen as a crop tolerant of summer drought as it ripens from early summer. With another dry winter crops are at risk again. Farmers can and will take steps in an effort to cope, but there is much more that could be done with more co-ordination at the centre.”