GREENVILLE —Darke County residents attending the Agriculture Breakfast meeting June 1 learned one basic fact of beer making — without barley, you don’t have beer. So is barley a potential cash crop for Ohio farmers?
That was the message by Robin Coffman, Eric Stockinger’s Research Assistant at Stockinger Lab, in a video teleconference during the breakfast at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville.
“Malting Barley in Ohio,” was the theme. Stockinger Lab Barley Breeding and Genetics program is operated within The Ohio State University, Horticulture and Crop Science department, in Wooster.
According to Stockinger Lab research, one aspect that makes Ohio and the neighboring Great Lakes, Midwestern, and Northeastern state regions attractive for winter malting barley cultivation, is that soil moisture levels are usually non-limiting at seedling establishment in autumn and during grain-fill, and under non-limiting moisture conditions extremely high quality grain for malting purposes can be obtained.
Coffman’s presentation highlighted some information, including: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics on pricing, when and how to plant, nutrition and fertilization, weed control, diseases, insects, harvest and storage and varieties (cultivars) to grow. According to Coffman, malting barley’s selling price is averaging at about $5.13 per bushel across the United States, and the seed barley is substantially less.
“If you don’t have barley, you don’t have beer — that is kind of a thing we live by,” Coffman said.
Stockinger Lab has been testing winter malting barleys for their cultivation suitability, in Ohio, since the 2008-2009 season. All lines have been put into yield comparison trials with other Ohio and local varieties and selections, including Ohio No. 1 (1940 release), Mercer (collected pre-1940), Dayton (1955 release), Ray (1988 release), and ‘Thoroughbred’ (2003 release and a Virginia Tech six-row feed barley that is at present the only Certified Seed barley cultivar available in Ohio), according to the study.
Hundreds of malting barley varieties have been tested. The six-row variety ‘Maja’ was one of the first tested. The two row variety ‘Puffin’ was first tested 2011–2012. The following year ‘Puffin’ revealed itself as a high malting quality candidate suitable for large scale cultivation in Ohio. ‘Maja’ and ‘Puffin’ have subsequently gone into production scale seed increases, according to the testing results.
Coffman pointed out some differences between the two and six-row varieties, such as: the two-row variety is coming into a more favorable condition at this point because of the plumpness of the grain, giving more bang for the buck. It is favored by craft brewers. The six-row is more common in the United States and used heavy by mega brewers. According to the Brewers Association 2016 statistics state craft beer sales and production, Ohio ranks fourth in barrels of craft beer produced annually — 1,373,041 — and twelfth in craft breweries, 177.
Darke County Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sam Custer said malting barley may be a crop that can be a profit source for Darke County farms.
To find out more about malting barley, visit https://stockingerlab.osu.edu/malting-barley-resources
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