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Reducing the Probability of Pre-Harvest Sprouting Damage

Barley: Quality Improvement Use Case

The Current Situation

Pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) damage is a major problem across many barley growing regions with late planting and wet conditions extending the acreage and severity of PHS.

To meet supply requirements maltsters are buying barley with a higher sprouting damage than normal and this impacts costs and quality, and drains reserves.

And growers, already financially stressed, are feeling the effect on their bottom line from prices that have been reduced from malt quality pricing levels to feed levels....and the high probability of additional damage during storage doesn’t help.

PHS has persisted for many years and corrective actions include, eliminating swathing, rotations, early planting and introducing new varieties.

Due to its lower enzyme content, lower protein, greater starch content, and thinner husk 2 row barley is better suited for beer production and both maltsters and brewers are pushing for a transition from the traditional 6 row barley to a 100% 2 row crop.

Farmers are increasingly considering barley as a high-risk crop

Market Trends

North American barley acreage has been in decline over the past 30 years with a resultant reduction in malt production, on average, by about 25%.

PHS is one of the primary drivers of the acreage reduction as farmers have difficulty meeting quality specifications and earning the quality premium.

Approximately 25% of the barley crop is used for malting in the US; 80% for beer, 14% for distilled alcohol products, 6% for malt syrup, malted milk and breakfast foods.

PHS Impact on Maltsters and Brewers

Disagreements between the industry and growers are increasing and maltsters and brewers are obliged to accept lower quality barley which negatively impacts:

  • Manufacturing costs

  • Quality

  • Clean labelling

  • New products

And their response to the PHS crisis

Brewers are reformulating their product mix and increasing their use of additives to take account of the use of inferior quality raw materials.

They are also developing programs to help farmers respond to PHS and other quality issues.

They need also to source new suppliers both locally and further afield with the consequent increase in logistic costs .

The use of reserve inventories lowers the supply risks, but the inventory of 2-row varieties is limited to 12 to 15 months, with viability declining after 6 months in storage.

New barley varieties, with targeted traits, are being constantly developed to combat PHS, including improved dormancy.

The CONTEXT approach to reduce PHS

Aglytix, an AI, data analytics company has developed technologies to address PHS and the other issues that negatively affect the quality of barley and other crops.

CONTEXT is an AI analytic and data solution, for key stakeholders throughout the barley-malt-beer supply chain, that offers high confidence level predictive modeling of PHS occurrence, identifies the underlying root causes of PHS and provides the intelligence needed for action to be undertaken to remedy or mitigate future recurrence.

For each crop type and for each variety and hybrid, there is a unique Recipac™ quality assurance recipe that aligns the quality parameters needed to meet the needs of the final customer, whether it is a brewing company, a malting company, a food processor or a cooperative.

  • Recipac™ is designed to be used by originators, maltsters, and brewers.

  • “Recipes” are an AI derived model that capture the correlations between the functional specification and a field’s characteristics, grower’s practices, inputs, and timing.

  • Recipes are proprietary to a client, specific to a crop and application of the crop; for example, barley and beer. While this article is focused on PHS, recipes are broader in scope and will include multiple quality objectives such as sprouting, protein, plumpness, and extract.

  • For this use case, a recipe is used to analyze a specific field to identify Its susceptibility to PHS and to identify the root causes that result in the susceptibility.

  • Preventing the impact of this PHS issue should start by selecting the optimal fields and Recipac recipes can be used pre-season to identify the fields and operators with the lowest susceptibility for PHS.

Grower based analytics that identify the corrective actions a grower can take to improve profitability and increase quality.

  • SolverPod™ is designed to be used with growers to improve their profitability and performance and is a key tool for gaining grower adoption

  • it eqally Identifies a grower’s unrealized yields and avoidable costs and their root causes.


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