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Malting Barley Prices Increase

The malting barley harvest at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.

The malting barley harvest at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.

Malting barley farmers are locking in good prices for their 2013 crop. We’re seeing reports of about $6.75 per bushel. That’s slightly higher than what farmers were getting a month ago, but $1.40 per bushel higher than at the end of 2012. All this fits in nicely with what the experts were predicting, slight upward pressure on malting barley prices for this year, but nothing too shocking.

The funny thing about barley is that there are two markets for it, one for malting barley and the other for feed barley. Almost all malting barley in the United States is grown and sold under contracts that are settled early in the year. Maltsters want to know they’ll have enough supply, and barley farmers like knowing ahead of time how much they’ll be paid. It’s very similar to how aroma hops are grown and sold.

Feed barley is completely different. It’s a commodity in every sense of the world. The price rises and falls according to the usual rules of supply and demand – and according to the supply and demand for feed corn and wheat. But feed barley always costs less than malting barley. Feed barley is cheaper to grow.

So are the experts right about malting barley prices? It’s not something we at Rogue Farms worry about. All the Risk™ and Dare™ malting barley we grow in Tygh Valley goes to the Rogue Brewery in Newport. Growing our own means paying attention to the barley, not the markets.

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