Idaho barley producers are feeling optimistic this year

The USDA is estimating that this year’s barley crop could be one for the record books for producers.
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 12:51 PM MDT
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RUPERT, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho Barley Producers are feeling optimistic this year, even though parts of the Gem State are still struggling with drought conditions. The USDA is estimating that this year’s barley crop could be one for the record books for producers.

Rupert Farmer Mike Wilkins said the kernels are plump, and the heads are filled from top to bottom. He likes the way his barley crop looks.

“That’s what the malt people want right there. That’s great barley,” Wilkins said.

Idaho’s barley crop is estimated to be up 43% from last year, according to the USDA, and average yields are shaping up to be on a record pace at 111 bushels per acre.

“It’s the weather. We had a cold spring. We had timely rains. We had plenty of water. So, people ran short on water last year,” Wilkins said.

Additionally, Idaho producers planted more than normal this year, compared to last year. It is estimated producers will harvest about 560,000 acres of barley this year, compared to 490,000 in 2021.

“It might be a little bit too with the cost of production. Barley takes less fertilizer, less fuel. That would be a reason they would plant that,” Wilkins said.

He also says some farmers planted barley this year instead of other crops, because of anticipation of another dry Summer.

“Barley uses a lot less water than corn or hay, potatoes, and beets,” Wilkins said.

Idaho leads the United States in barley production, and about 70% of the barley grown is malt barley, which is used in the beer brewing process. Farmers generally produce about 12 million barrels of beer annually.

“If you look at a typical six-pack of Budweiser half of those bottles by the percentages are made with malt from, Idaho. Anheuser-Busch gets half of their malt in North America from Idaho,,” said Sean Ellis, Spokesperson for Idaho Farm Bureau.

In the end, a strong barley crop this year will be beneficial for brewers and farmers.

“That’s what you make good beer from,” Wilkins said.

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