The barley markets have seen little change in the past couple weeks, as the trade waits for the barley harvest to get a handle on this year's crop and also see show the latest drought concern impacts the corn markets, according to Marvin Zutz, Minnesota Barley Growers Association executive director. The prospects look good for Minnesota's barley crop, although it won't be the best crop growers have ever grown, he noted.
The growers in Minnesota were able to get their crop in fairly early this year and the number of acres was up thanks to higher priced malting barley contracts that made barley look very appealing to the growers, he said. Growers were able to plant in good soil conditions and the emergence of the crop was good. However, the weather turned dry in some parts of the state and hurt the earlier planted fields, while those areas that received adequate moisture have fields that look really good.
"But all things considered, the Minnesota crop is in excellent condition," he said. "We won't have the top yields that some guys start with that they are going to achieve, but it should be a very respectable crop."
If he had to guess, Zutz figures the quality of the barley crop in his state should be good this year, since the weather has been cooler when the heads were filling.
"And looking at the weather pattern for the next two weeks, I don't see any fire-blazing heat that would hurt the quality, so it looks like it's going to be a respectable yielding crop and the quality is going to be excellent," he said.
Spraying fungicide for diseases was a yes and no situation this year, according to Zutz. At a time in the plant cycle when fungicide needed to be applied was also when the dry conditions were dominating the weather. Therefore many growers opted to not spray for scab and other diseases, while others didn't want to take the risk and did apply fungicides.
Feed barley prices have increased by a nickel during the past two weeks as a result of higher corn prices, he noted.
"If corn goes up it has a tendency to bring the other commodities up along with it," he explained. "And the threat of less rainfall in the Corn Belt just might give support to barley prices in the coming year.
"The real encouraging thing I have heard is most producers haven't forward contracted their corn crop and the processors were having a difficult time pulling old corn out of the bins even today. So at this time it looks like this is going to be a good time to be a producer as far as marketing goes.
"We are always in a weather market in regards to corn and soybeans, both domestically and worldwide and that affects the other commodity markets, including barley," he added.
Looking at the cash market prices at local elevators in the region-cash feed barley on average was a nickel higher at $4.65 per bushel, while malting barley prices were steady at $5.60 per bushel.