RMI Analytics Crop Tour – 2017 Czechia and Slovakia
From July 12 to 14 RMI Analytics conducted a crop tour of cooperatives, malthouses, demo and commercial barley fields, in the Czech Republic near to Brno, Kroměříž, Hrubčice, Rostěnice and in Slovakia near to Trnava, Dolné Dubové, Trebatice, Piešťany.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia had an excellent start to the season, but since seeding rainfall has been sparse and much of the country is in rainfall deficit by up to half of the typical cropping period (100-150mm deficit). Across the regions observed the majority of the damage seen in crops was from dryness during development of barley, which has led to smaller kernels, shorter ears and, what’s expected to be a generally lower quality crop. Upon starting the tour heavy rain was witnessed across the region which will delay the harvest by about a week while crops and fields dried out.
Starting the tour in the Slovakian city of Trnava participants visited the Lycos malthouse and learned about the company’s EUR22.73M of planned investments including 30,000MT of capacity expansion, improved rail access, a new kiln and expanded storage. From here on the bus en-route to field visits participants learned Slovakian farmers have planted 87,772Ha of spring barley and 33,253Ha of winter barley in 2017, with yields on average of 4.24MT/Ha and 4.98MT/Ha respectively. The majority of spring malting barley varieties (numbers in brackets reflect multiplication acreage) are Kangoo (65%), Sebastian, Malz (8%), Overture (8%) and Marthe (6%) with Odyssey (2%) and Sunshine (5%) still in industrial tests. Regarding winter barley Wintmalt, Malwinta and Cassanova are the dominant types. This year total barley yields are expected to be lower at around 3.8MT/Ha. During the season (Jan-Jun 2017) 126.2mm of rain has been recorded as falling over the region of Western Slovakia compared to the 50-year-average of 256.2mm. At the time of the tour about 60% of winter barley had been harvested while about 10-20% of the spring barley had been harvested.
On the first fields visited near Dolné Dubové the tour heard yields were expected to be around 5.2MT/Ha with protein of 10.8%, screenings at 70% (typically 80-90%) and a 130mm rainfall deficit leading to the expectation the yield and quality reduction would mean a 30% decline in production. Next up was fields near Trebatice where in a variety of demos with specific varieties for Czech beer production and more common varieties from other EU countries an average of 5MT/Ha was expected by farmers with no noticeable different in results between varieties this year owing to the low rainfall. Next up was a visit to a farmer near Abraham in Slovakia where two commercial fields of Overture and Kangoo were observed. Here the farmer told participants heavy rain the previous night had brought up the seasonal rainfall to 100mm, compared to a normal level of 250mm. Yields were expected to be around 4MT/Ha with protein of 10.8%.
Following this the tour stopped for lunch in the spa town of Piešťany at the Thermia Palace hotel and then from there traveled into the Czech Republic and the city of Kroměříž. In Kroměříž the tour was given an exclusive tour of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Archbishop’s residence and then enjoyed a wine tasting in the adjoining cellars.
The following morning the tour visited the Limagrain breeding station in Hrubčice and saw a variety of demo fields. Limagrain told participants farmers in the Czech Republic planted about 100,000Ha of winter barley and 230,000Ha of spring barley this year with total barley yields on average at 5.44MT/Ha and production at around 1.9m MT. Farm sizes were also discussed with ca. 2% of farmers > 1000 Ha representing 51% of total hectares . Following this visit the tour saw the operations of the Rostěnice Cooperative and enjoyed a presentation by Alexandr Mikyška from the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague and a presentation from Sladovny Soufflet about their operations in the country. Mr Mikyška talked extensively about the differences in specifications required for barley destined to be used for Czech beer production as well as the history of Czech beer. Richard Paulu from Sladovny Soufflet gave a wide ranging presentation on trends in Czech beer production and consumption, malt production and export, barley trade, trends in yield as well as in sowing.
The final field visit was to two neighboring fields of Pionier and Kangoo with much discussion over the expected yield with local experts saying they expected a 30% loss in yield nationwide with the subsequent losses in quality taking another 20% of malting barley for a total decline in output in 2017 of 50%. It is not clear yet whether this will come to pass, as the harvest is yet to begin in force, but this is expected to begin later this week with results becoming clear by the end of the month.
This is the second RMI Analytics crop tour of 2017 and we would like to offer our sincere thanks to gold sponsors Lycos and Sladovny Soufflet, silver sponsor Limagrain and bronze sponsors Breun and Eurofins. Finally, RMI would like to thank Plzensky Prazdroj for supplying refreshments during the tour.
Thanks as well go to local farmers and cooperatives who opened their doors to the tour group and shared their passion for the malting barley.
It’s also important to thank the participants, who make this unique malting barley industry networking opportunity such a success.
The next RMI Analytics crop tour will be held in the UK (East Anglia) from August 1-2.
Manager of Market Insights and Reporting
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