Quality of barley selected for malting in 2014

Annual harvest survey

GRL sampling and survey methodology

The Grain Research Laboratory at the Canadian Grain Commission conducts an annual survey to
determine the quality of malting barley grown in Western Canada. The 2014 malting barley survey was based on varietal composite samples representing 793,550 tonnes of barley which had been selected for domestic malt processing or for export as malting barley by Cargill Inc, Canada Malting Co. Ltd., Rahr Malting Co., Richardson International, and Viterra Inc. The tonnage included in this survey represents only a portion of the total volume of malting barley selected in Western Canada, and does not necessarily reflect the actual amounts selected. Samples were received from the beginning of harvest until the 19th of November, 2014. The reported average results represent weighted averages based on tonnage of composite samples received.

Malting conditions and methodologies  

Initial malting trials indicated that sufficient steep out moisture levels were achieved using two wet steep cycles. Despite slightly higher protein levels, the smaller kernels took up water easily; therefore, the total steep time was shortened from 18 hours (used in 2013) to 16 hours. All analytical methods used in this survey to assess the barley, malt and wort quality are listed in the Methods.

Malting conditions used with Phoenix Micromalting System in 2014
Steeping 8 h wet steep, 16 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 2014 - Highlights 

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

  • Well modified malt was easily obtained from 2014 barley; it showed good friability and after mashing it resulted in wort with average levels of β-glucan and increased levels of soluble protein, and free amino nitrogen (FAN).
  • Slightly smaller kernels and higher protein levels in 2014 barley resulted in slightly lower malt extracts compared to the 5-year average values. 
  • This year’s malts exhibited higher than average levels of diastatic enzymes.  
  • Good quality malt can be obtained from 2014 barley through careful selection and timely malting with the application of appropriate processing conditions.

Quality of barley selected for malting in 2014: general trends and annual statistics

Malting barley selected in 2014 was overall of average quality.

Average protein content in barley selected for malting from 2005-2014

Barley protein levels in 2014 (11.7%) were equal to the 10-year average, and substantially higher than in 2013 (11.2%).

Graph of protein content for malting barley, 2005-14. Details below.

Details
Average protein content in barley selected for malting from 2005-2014
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
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 11.7

Thousand kernel weights of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014

This year’s barley had lower kernel weight than in 2013.

Average 1000 kernel weight of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014

Graph of 1000 kernel weight for malting barley, 2005-14. Details below.

Details
Average 1000 kernel weight of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
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 44.2

Plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014

Kernel plumpness, which is a measure of kernels remaining on the 6/64” slotted screen, was slightly above the 10-year average.

Average plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014

Graph of kernel plumpness % over 6/64 sieve for malting barley, 2005-14. Details below.

Details
Average plumpness of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
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 93.3

Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting in 2014

This year’s barley had smaller diameter than in 2013.

Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting

Graph of average kernel diameter (mm) of 6 barley varieties, 2014. Details below.

Details
Average kernel diameter of barley varieties selected for malting
Variety Diameter
2013 2014
Metcalfe 2.6 2.51
Copeland 2.61 2.52
Meredith 2.63 2.51
Newdale 2.58 2.54
Bentley 2.7 2.58
Kindersly 2.67 2.51

Average germination of barley varieties selected for malting in 2014

Germination energy was adequate; however moderate water sensitivity was present in some samples.

Average germination of barley varieties selected for malting in 2014

Graph of average hardness index of 6 barley varieties, 2014. Details below.

Details
Average germination of barley selected for malting from 2005-2014
Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Germination 99 99 92 99 98 97 99 97 99 99 96 99 98 98 96

RVA results for barley selected for malting in three Western Canada provinces in 2014

Graph of RVA results in AB, SK, MB for malting barley, 2014. Description below.

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.

Details

Pre-germination is the premature sprouting of grain while still in the ear as a consequence of prolonged spells of wet weather when mature grain remains uncut in the field; this event is called ‘pre-harvest sprouting’. One of the enzymes produced very early during germination is α-amylase. Since the level of α-amylase in sound grain is very low compared to its level in the germinating grain, the content of α-amylase in grain can be used as a marker of germination. Rapid visco analysis (RVA) indirectly estimates the amount of α-amylase in barley by measuring the viscosity of ground barley in water.

RVA is used by barley selectors to identify sound, moderately and strongly pre-germinated barley, and to manage their supply accordingly. Samples with final viscosity values > 120 (RVU) are considered sound and the probability that they will retain germination energy (GE) after storage is very high. Samples with RVA values 50-120 (RVU) are moderately pre-germinated, whereas samples with RVA values < 50 (RVU) are substantially pre-germinated, and the probability that they will lose GE during storage is high. They should be malted as soon as possible. To predict safe storage time more accurately, not only the RVA values, but also the storage conditions (T and RH) and the initial moisture content of the grain have to be taken into account.

Among the samples tested in 2014 survey only a few showed high RVA values (>120 RVU). This year’s RVA results have reflected generally wet harvest conditions resulting in high incidence of substantial pre-germination (<50 RVU), a dramatic contrast to 2013. The RVA results stress the need for identification of barley with low RVU that should be malted promptly. As indicated in the next sections of this report, pre-germinated barley malted soon after harvest can produce good quality malt.