Farmers across the region have successfully planted another malt barley crop and before too long combines will be rolling through the golden ripe fields. But this year’s harvest will be a little later than normal.
“Well, it’s a mixed bag this year,” said Wade Malchow, the Senior Manager of Global Barley for Molson Coors in Huntley.
He said it’s been one of those years where Mother Nature has delivered a little bit of everything for their growers.
“Starting south down in Colorado, it’s been pretty dry,” said Malchow. “Record low snow packs. Kind of the opposite of what we’ve seen here in Montana. I think things look pretty normal and on track in Worland, Wyoming and the Northern Wyoming region for us. Idaho looks very good for us at this point in time. Southern Montana, it’s a little less certain. It was almost too wet this spring. It caused some delays in getting into the field and the continued moisture has made it difficult for growers to get in and spray. It’s also started to create some off colors in the fields as the crop tuns a bit yellow. So we could use some of this sunshine that we’re getting today and a little breeze to help dry things out.”
The quality of this year’s crop is mixed in Montana. He says in Northern Montana it’s in 95 percent good to excellent condition, while in Southern Montana it’s in 65 percent good to excellent condition. But he’s still optimistic about this year’s barley harvest.
“Well, any time you plant late in malt barley you’re not going to see your top yield,” said Malchow. “But we could still have a good quality year that would allow us to buy the target amount of barley that these growers are looking to sell us. If we can get some good sunny days, mild temperatures, little breeze, we’ll be in good shape.”
Jerry Jerome is Regional Agronomy Manager for Busch Ag Resources in Conrad. He describes similar conditions for their Anheuser Busch barley growers.
“We’ve had an abundance of moisture actually since March,” said Jerome. “So that did put a little later behind on our seeding date. But at the same time, it’s been almost tailor made for growing dryland malting barley and at the same time we’re just starting to do our first irrigation on our irrigated crop. All in all, they’re really looking very good. Slight disease issues and maybe a few insect issues just do to the moisture and cool weather. But again, we’re off to a really good start.”
Because of this year’s planting delays, both men say the barley harvest in Montana which normally begins in mid to late-July will likely be pushed back to early August.
As for the malt barley crop in Wyoming, growers who raise MillerCoors barley in the Big Horn Basin report the crop in great condition and say the harvest will start nearly on time towards the end of July.