Final 2021 U.S. Barley Production and December Quarterly Stock Reports

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their annual 2021 Crop Production and their quarterly Grain Stocks reports on January 12, 2022 at noon EST.  Summaries of these reports are posted to the AMBA website.

Production – Production was estimated at 118 million bushels, down 31 percent from the 2020 total of 171 million bushels. The average yield, at 60.4 bushels per acre, was down 16.8 bushels from the previous year. Producers seeded 2.66 million acres in 2021, down 2 percent from 2020. Harvested area, at 1.95 million acres, was down 12 percent from 2020.

Stocks – Barley stored in all positions on December 1, 2021 totaled 97.6 million bushels, down 34 percent from December 1, 2020. On-farm stocks are estimated at 43.1 million bushels, 49 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 54.5 million bushels, are 14 percent below December 2020. The September – November 2021 indicated disappearance is 37.8 million bushels, 23 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Look for an updated Grain Stocks report and a Prospective Plantings report posted on the AMBA website on March 31, 2022. 

2021 Barley Variety Survey Maps

The American Malting Barley Association conducts a confidential survey of its members contracting malting barley each year. The data for the major barley producing states is combined and reported as percentages of the acreage planted by state and crop reporting districts. The 2021 variety survey maps and past maps can be found posted on the AMBA website here.

Increased staffing realized at the USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit

The USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit (CCRU) in Madison, WI realized pandemic related shutdowns most of 2020 and had been operating with only 25% staffing in 2021. The lab is critical infrastructure for the barley industry by providing malting quality analysis for public breeding programs in the US. The reduced staffing has resulted in a large backlog of breeder’s samples from the 2019 and 2020 crop years. On October 1, the USDA-ARS announced that the 25% staffing would continue until January 2022. AMBA contacted the ARS Area Director, Dr. Alberto Pantoja, explaining our concerns and pointed out the large building footprint in relation to the modest staff number. We are happy to report that the CCRU has been given permission to expand to 100% staffing. We are grateful that USDA-ARS has responded to our request. Employees may opt to continue with remote work, so not all staff will return immediately. Acting Research Leader, Dr. Mali Mahalingam, is allowing for expanded hours and staggered shifts to increase individuals comfort/willingness with returning to on-site work. AMBA recognizes the burden the pandemic has placed on many of our members and researchers, and we are here to support and help navigate these challenges.

Climate Change Impacts Barley Production

Milwaukee, WI – May 17, 2018 – The major malting barley growing regions of the US extend from the Northern Great Plains, through the intermountain mountains and into the Pacific Northwest.  A diverse geography that is being impacted by climate change in different ways requires a multidisciplinary approach to the development of adapted barley varieties.  Temperatures across the region are predicted to increase in the coming years.  North Dakota has seen the fastest increase in temperature in the contiguous 48 states, mainly through warming winters.  The increases in the Pacific Northwest are expected to be largest during the summer growing season.

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LED Lights for Speed Breeding

Speed Breeding Greenhouse Using a speed growing technique that employs LED lights has the potential to dramatically accelerate the process of breeding better-performing crops, according to researchers at John Innes Centre in England and Australian institutions, the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney. Results of the study appeared in January in the scientific journal Nature Plants. The new speed breeding technique means that it’s now possible to grow six generations of wheat every year—a threefold increase over current growth rates.  View Article

Montana Barley Fields Become Front Line For Climate Change

A bumper sticker spotted in Montana reads, “No barley, no beer.” It’s a reminder that Montana’s barley farmers are struggling. Barley is an unforgiving crop that needs a precise recipe of water and sunshine to thrive — too much of either will cause it to wither and die. And amid a changing climate and unpredictable seasons, that’s exactly what’s happening.

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Expanded Malting Barley Research in the Eastern US Benefits Enti

Milwaukee, WI – May 4, 2017 – The interest in growing malting barley has expanded across the US in the last several years and necessitated the need for additional crop research.  This research ranges from trials to find current cultivars suitable for a new region, to breeding programs developing new varieties with the disease resistance and other traits to allow for profitable production.  The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) has helped to foster this research whenever its resources have allowed it to do so.The growth in the number of brewers and distillers in the eastern US, and the movement to source ingredients locally has created a new market for malting barley in the region.  Some states have added tax incentives to further cultivate these markets.  Malting companies and farmers are searching for the malting cultivars that have the desired quality and will grow in the region.

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AMBA Board Approves 2016-2017 Barley Research Grant Funding

The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) Board of Directors has approved funding of $561,660 for its July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 grant fiscal year for 27 research projects, which includes additional support for research provided by members Rahr Malting and Harpoon Brewery, and nonmember funding provided by the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Barley breeding and genetics programs in eleven states, CA, ID, MN, MT, NE, NC, ND, OH, OR, VA, WA, will receive the majority of funding, with the remainder of the funds provided to other supporting research projects on diseases, insect pests, variety evaluation, production, management, and malting quality.

The research grant program is directed at meeting AMBA’s mission to encourage and support an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for the malting, brewing, distilling, and food industries and increase our understanding of malting barley, and AMBA’s vision to be the leader in improvement, development, and understanding of malting barley. AMBA has 27 Regular voting members and 53 Associate members.

2016/2017 Funded Projects

Mike Davis, Ph.D.
American Malting Barley Association, Inc.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin