Quality of western Canadian malting barley 2013

Annual harvest survey

GRL sampling and survey methodology

The Canadian Grain Commission conducts an annual survey to determine the quality of malting barley grown in the three Prairie Provinces.  The data generated for this report were based on the analysis of representative varietal composite samples selected for malting purposes.  The 2013 malting barley survey was based on 76 varietal composites representing 925,900 tonnes of barley which had been selected for domestic malt processing or for export as malting barley by Cargill Inc., Canada Malting Co. Ltd., Parrish and Heimbecker Co. Ltd., Malteurop, Rahr Malting Co. Ltd., Richardson International, and Viterra Inc. The tonnage included in this survey represent only a portion of the total volume of malting barley selected in Western Canada through the end of October, and does not necessarily reflect the actual amounts selected. Samples were received from the beginning of harvest until the 26th of October.

Malting conditions and methodologies  

Favourable growing conditions across most of the Prairies resulted in barley with lower protein levels and larger, heavier kernels. Excellent germination energies, with little evidence of water sensitivity supported the use of a standard micro-malting schedule with two wet steep cycles, as was used in 2012. The use of the same schedule facilitates year-to-year comparisons. All analytical methods used in this survey to assess the barley, malt and wort quality are listed in the Appendix I.

Malting conditions used with Phoenix Micromalting System in 2013
Steeping 10 h wet steep, 18 h air rest, 8 h wet steep, 12 h air rest @ 13°C
Germination 96 h @ 15°C
Kilning 12h @ 60°C,  6h@ 65°C,  2h @ 75°C,  4h @ 85°C

Malting quality in 2013 - Highlights 

This year’s harvest resulted in malts with excellent quality:

  • High plumpness combined with low protein resulted in very high levels of malt extract.  Generally, the malt extract for the most common malting barley cultivars was higher by about 1.2% compared to the 5-year average values.
  • Well modified malts were readily obtained resulting in low wort β-glucan and good levels of soluble protein and free amino nitrogen.  Enzyme levels (diastatic power and α-amylase) in malts were adequate and close to the long term average. 
  • Despite their large size, kernels took up water easily, and modified rapidly. Good water uptake and adequate steep-out moisture during malting could be associated with somewhat softer endosperm as indicated by relatively low hardness index values in barley.  
  • Slightly higher than average malt losses, as indicated by lower than normal malt yields, suggest that the malts produced in this study were somewhat over-modified.

Quality of barley selected for malting in 2013: general trends and annual statistics

Average protein content in barley selected for malting from 2004-2013

Malting barley selected in 2013 was of above average quality. Protein levels were the lowest seen over the last 10 years.

Graph of protein content for malting barley, 2004-13. Details below.

Details
Average protein content in barley selected for malting from 2004-2013
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Protein 11.7 12.2 12.6 12.3 11.8 11.7 11.9 12.3 11.7 11.2 11.6 11.4 11.9 11.1

Thousand kernel weights of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013

Thousand kernel weights were above long term averages and correlated positively with large diameters of barley kernels. Large kernels with low protein content are generally associated with increased levels of starch and therefore greater potential for high extract. However, excessively large kernels could have an impact on malt quality, particularly on the rate of water hydration and modification during malting.

Average 1000 kernel weight of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013
Graph of 1000 kernel weight for malting barley, 2004-13. Details below.
Details
Average 1000 kernel weight of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Kernel weight 39.5 42.1 40.1 40.9 43.2 43.1 41.7 39 44.6 44.3 41.7 44.2 41.5 48.2

Plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013

Kernel plumpness was above long term averages and correlated positively with large diameters of barley kernels. Large kernels with low protein content are generally associated with increased levels of starch and therefore greater potential for high extract. However, excessively large kernels could have an impact on malt quality, particularly on the rate of water hydration and modification during malting.

Average plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013
Graph of kernel plumpness % over 6/64 sieve for malting barley, 2004-13. Details below.
Details
Average plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2004-2013
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Plumpness 87.5 90.7 90 85.5 92.5 90.9 89.5 84 93.8 94.1 92.1 93.2 88.4 94.7

Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013

Kernel plumpness were above long term averages and correlated positively with large diameters of barley kernels. Large kernels with low protein content are generally associated with increased levels of starch and therefore greater potential for high extract. However, excessively large kernels could have an impact on malt quality, particularly on the rate of water hydration and modification during malting.

Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013
Graph of average kernel diameter (mm) of 6 barley varieties, 2013. Details below.
Details
Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013
Variety Diameter
Mean Standard Deviation
Metcalfe 2.62 0.05
Copeland 2.62 0.05
Meredith 2.62 0.04
Newdale 2.58 0.07
Bentley 2.71 0.04
Kindersly 2.66 0.04

Average hardness index of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013

Another unusual characteristic of barley grain this year was relatively low grain hardness. Grain hardness is not routinely measured when evaluating barley grain quality. High grain protein and β-glucan levels are usually positively correlated with high grain hardness indices, whereas malt extract and endosperm modification are usually negatively correlated with grain hardness.  This year’s barley was softer, which can facilitate water uptake during steeping.

Average hardness index of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013
Graph of average hardness index of 6 barley varieties, 2013. Details below.
Details
Average harness index of barley varieties selected for malting in 2013
Variety Hardness
Mean Standard Deviation
Metcalfe 55.5 3.4
Copeland 47.0 2.9
Meredith 51.8 3.5
Newdale 50.2 2.7
Bentley 49.7 1.5
Kindersly 51.2 7.6

RVA results for barley selected for malting in three Western Canada provinces in 2013

Rapid visco analysis is used by barley selectors to identify sound, moderately and strongly pre-germinated barley, and manage their supply accordingly. This year’s RVA results have reflected generally favorable harvest conditions with only localized areas experiencing above average precipitation.  Figure 3.6 shows the distribution of RVA data by province. Among the total of 76 barley samples analyzed this year, 52% of the samples showed very high RVA values, ranging from 120 to 170 RVU (rapid visco units), and indicating a high degree of soundness and a high probability of retaining germination energy during a long-term storage.  Nearly a quarter (23%) of the samples exhibited moderate pre-germination (50-110 RVU) and, therefore, good potential for storability provided proper cool and dry storage conditions. Slightly more than a quarter (26%) of the samples showed the RVA values lower than 50 RVU, primarily coming from Alberta, stressing the need for identification of barley that should be malted promptly unless stored in cold and dry conditions for a short period.

RVA results for barley selected for malting in three Western Canada provinces in 2013
Graph of RVA results in AB, SK, MB for malting barley, 2013. Descriptions above + below.

Risk of germination loss in storage is low for RVA >120; intermediate for 50 < RVA < 120; high for RVA < 50. The box shows the range of RVA values in the middle 50% of the analyzed samples; the horizontal line and the dot inside the box indicate the median and mean, respectively.  The short horizontal lines outside of the box mark the minimum and maximum values.