RMI Analytics Crop Tour Report – 2016 Czechia (Czech Republic)
On July 7 and 8 RMI Analytics conducted a crop tour of cooperatives, breweries, trial and commercial barley fields, in The Czech Republic, visiting areas in the Greater Prague Region, Bohemia and the Hradec Kralove Region, near the Czech-Polish border town of Nachod.
The Czech Republic had a dry start to the season with April and May seeing broadly reduced rainfall across most of the country (in some areas only 40mm of rain) which has impacted crops by reducing the amount of tillers, for example.
In late May and throughout June heavy rain came across the country with some areas receiving almost 1/3 of their annual rainfall throughout the month.
Across the regions visited lodging was seen in wheat and winter barley as well as in spring barley crops, normally those which hadn’t be treated with growth regulators or were treated too late. Broadly speaking disease pressure was low with little evidence of fusarium or other fungal diseases in the majority of crops surveyed.
In the Greater Prague Region the tour visited the ZEVOS s.r.o. agricultural company in Předboj, 24.9km North of Prague. Farmers on the 1830Ha property said spring barley (Sunshine, 200kg/Ha) was seeded on 405Ha from March 12-24 with ammonia applied to fields before seeding and 130kg of nitrogen added at seeding. Yield wise the farmers expect 6.3MT/Ha on average (2015 8.3MT/Ha, 2014 7.1MT/Ha), a reduction on previous years due to the dry start. In a 44Ha and 40Ha field, the group saw crops of Sunshine, a variety which is mainly exported, which was three to four weeks away from harvest and showed little disease pressure with plump grains and good color. As well as discussing crop production farmers said, as they are close to Prague, recent years have seen them come under pressure from developers as the city expands and land values rise.
Next the tour visited the ZOD cooperative in Potěhy where farmers discussed grain production and broader agricultural issues as they also run a pig, dairy and poultry operation. Regarding cereals they farm 1600Ha with 280Ha devoted to spring (malting) barley, 160Ha to winter (feed) barley, 100Ha to wheat, 480ha to rapeseed as well as 330ha for sugar beet. Spring barely (Bojos, a Czech variety) was seeded at the end of March on a field which had previously grown sugar beet with 60kg of nitrogen applied before sowing and 30kg on May 9. The expected yield is 8.5MT/Ha, with fields usually yielding 7-8MT/Ha.
In the broader discussion on agriculture the farmers lamented the increasingly strict edicts on production coming from Brussels while commodities are traded on the open market which, for example in dairy, means producers must comply with a host of laws but are unable to pass on costs for fear of losing market share. In the field, Bojos was seen with plump grains but shorter stems than is typical with harvest expected in about four to five weeks. Of the two fields seen on was expected to yield 8MT/Ha and the other 8.5MT/Ha. En-route to Nachod and a brewery tour Czech varieties and overall spring barley production was discussed. Interesting to note was Government figures released during the tour which show a decline in productive area to 221,000Ha (2015 261,405Ha) with an average yield of 5mt/ha and a total harvest pegged at 1.1m MT down from 1.4m MT last year. In Nachod, on the Czech-Polish border, the group visited the Primator Brewery, which produces 140,000 HL per year exporting 26% of their production, with 7% alone going to China alone. Total production is divided into a diverse range of 17 different brands and types of beer, from dark beers to IPAs, Czech style pilsners and higher alcohol bock style beers.
On the second day of the tour the group visited trial fields from Soufflet Agro in Všestary, an hour South-West of Nachod. In trial fields of Bojos the impact of heavy rains without the use of growth regulator was seen in trials where crops sat side-by-side, treated and untreated, with untreated fields in this region showing significant lodging. French variety Sebastian was also seen in trials but was badly lodged while other Czech varieties such as Xanadoo, Sunshine, Malz, Bojos and KWS Irina all performed better. One new variety showing excellent resistance to lodging and the expectation of good yields was LG Monos which is set to be used in malt production for Czech beer manufacture. KWS Irina also looked excellent and was expected to return excellent results with it being one of the shortest types of barley grown in the Czech Republic and highest yielding. Following this the tour visited a farmer near the town of Neděliště where the variety Laudis was seen in the field. Seeded on March 18 in a field which had previously grown sugar beets 90kg of nitrogen was applied with a seeding rate of 200kg of seeds per Ha. Yields were expected at 8MT/Ha compared to 8.08MT/Ha last year.
Overall the spring barley harvest is expected to commence for early regions in the next two weeks with the majority of regions finished or well advanced by end of July.
This is the second RMI Analytics crop tour of 2016 and we would like to offer our sincere thanks to sponsors Breun, Limagrain, Mackprang, Plzensky Prazdroj and Sladovny Soufflet for their much valued support.
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.
Finally, it’s 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 Denmark and Sweden from August 9-10.
Scott Casey Manager of Market Insights and Reporting
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