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Last year's abysmal weather has led to an expected increase of 40-50% on the previous season in spring malting barley acreage in the UK. 

Spring barley is a good option for many farmers at this stage and Frontier says that those planting spring barley should market some of their crop as soon as possible to help manage potential risk to price later in the season.

Jonathan Hoyland, barley trader for Frontier says "Many of these growers are new to growing and marketing malting barley. It is impossible to fully predict world markets but 40-50% is a significant increase in UK spring barley acreage, which will all be looking for a home. It cannot be assumed that demand will be equally balanced with this increased supply.

 "We know that current conditions across Europe are good on the winter sowings. Therefore we will see EU spring barley areas drop back to more normal levels. However, we are likely to see a huge increase the UK spring barley crop and supply may outweigh usual demand. 

"The danger is that the UK farmer who does not usually grow spring barley, will grow and harvest the crop, before considering marketing any of it. By that time barley could be discounted and available markets might not exist in their locality."

"Conversely, an unexpected event elsewhere could still benefit the UK market and create demand at any point, as has happened previously with both French and Danish barley crops suffering from weather related issues.  But at the moment this remains an unquantifiable factor."

The best advice for spring malting barley growers is to market at least a portion of the crop using risk management tools such as grain pools, forward-contracting or in a storage scheme.

Mr Hoyland concludes: "Farmers want to know if they grow spring barley this year will there be a market for their crop? The answer is yes, however, marketing a proportion of that crop right now is sensible both for pricing and to manage grain movement at harvest."


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