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According to the March 31 Planting Intentions report issued by AMBA (American Malting Barley Association), for 2022, producers in the USA intend to seed 2.94 million acres of barley for the 2022 crop year, up 11 percent from the previous year.
Looking further into the data, non-traditional regional zones for barley such as Delaware, Maryland, Maine and New York are holding strong. This supports Proximity’s model of regional barley sourcing. In Colorado, intentions increased by 21% for 2022 against 2021 actual acres, and in Delaware, intentions are the same as the 2021 actual acreage. In Montana, the largest barley state (by acreage), acreage is expected to increase by 12 percent over last year’s. Record low planted acreage is estimated for Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Utah.
Part of this year’s moderate planting intentions can be explained through the AMBA Barley Stocks report: As of March 1, USDA reported that 2022 stocks totaled 72,621,000 bushels – down 40% from stocks on March 1, 2021. from the previous March.
The 2021/22 Winter Barley maturing season is going very well in the Mid-Atlantic region. While a few producers experienced a small percentage of winterkill from freezing temps back in January and February, impacts to yield will be minimal. At the end of April, the majority of Delaware and Maryland fields were in a flowering stage, which is critical period with respect to climatic conditions. While forecasted weather has been somewhat cool compared to previous seasons, all Proximity fields are anticipated to finish pollinating without any frost damage. Yields are anticipated to achieve a 3 year high across the northern portion of the growing region this year. Southern production fields in Virginia and North Carolina completed flowering without incident as well the 3rd week of April.
Based on current growth stages and weather forecast, harvest should occur between the 4th week of May and middle of June throughout the region supplying our Laurel, DE malthouse. Barring adverse weather conditions over the next six weeks, the 2021/22 Mid-Atlantic malt barley crop could be one of the highest quality ever produced for Proximity Malt.
The Maryland barley crop is listed as 100% fair to excellent (30% in the fair category). The Delaware barley crop is listed as 99% fair to excellent (18% in the fair category).
The state remains dry, (87% of the state is currently under drought conditions) and a good period of rain will be very welcome. Barley is reported to be behind last year’s planting percentage, with about 48% reported as planted, versus 62%, this time last year. Dry conditions continue to hinder Southwest Colorado and the San Luis Valley, with snowpack at 64 and 59% of median snowfall, as of April 24h, 2022.
With respect to the rest of North America, the major concern continues to be regional dry conditions, as can be seen in the attached drought monitor (www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu) maps, comparing current 2022 conditions versus 2021.
Current U.S. Drought Map followed by U.S. Drought Map in 2021
Globally, the scene going into Crop 2022 is a bit brighter, but uneven in the details. There are large surpluses in the southern half of the world, large deficits in North America and Mexico, and a tight situation in Europe. While world supplies look healthy after bumper crops in Argentina and Australia, the invasion of Ukraine puts 2022 world acres in question.
As illustrated above, less than ideal weather in the U.S. Midwest may still impede the winter wheat crop; drought conditions in large parts of Argentina and Brazil (la Nina year!) bear watching for all crops. European winter weather has thankfully been typical. COVID related labor shortages, inflation, logistics and freight disturbances, all continue to impact the domestic grain markets.
A confluence of political, economic, and market forces continue to threaten the pricing and availability of malting quality barley as we enter the 2022 primary growing season. As wheat and corn prices remain high, prices for barley have risen accordingly as farmers decided in the past weeks whether to plant barley or wheat. High global feed demand, and the questions about Russian and Ukrainian supply, also creates a stronger channel for feed barley. Third, a dry start to the growing season in key regions worldwide – despite reasonable overall global stocks – may negatively impact not only malting barley supply, but also quality.