RECOMMENDATIONS for malt barley variety receivals in the 2021/22 harvest have been handed down by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia's (GIWA) Barley Council.
The suggestions, contained in a comprehensive report, came as a result of the GIWA Barley Forum discussion regarding the impact of the China barley tariffs and the malt barley variety rationalisation discussion held in late July.
Report lead author and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) senior research scientist Blakely Paynter said the malt barley variety receival recommendations have been developed by GIWA in consultation with the WA barley supply chain.
"The reduction in overall market demand for malt barley, associated with the tariffs imposed by China on the imports of Australian barley, favour the production of barley with a yield-feed focus rather than a malt-focus and result in a further reduction of the total area sown to barley in 2021," Mr Paynter said.
"Fortunately, the dominant barley varieties, RGT Planet and Spartacus CL, grown in WA can be received into malt segregations, ensuring we can still respond to any increased demand for malt barley should market conditions change.
"Maintaining a supply of the premium malt varieties, Bass and Flinders, is critical to domestic processors and key international customers during this period of reduced demand and expected lower market price."
The recommendations in the report are a guide for growers and consultants to help with the planning of the 2021 barley cropping program, with a review of the plan set to occur in autumn 2021.
According to Mr Paynter, Bass and Flinders will be the preferred malt barley varieties sought by the trade for malting and brewing end-use in South-East Asia and Japan, with demand for RGT Planet and Spartacus CL increasing in different market sectors.
"La Trobe is the preferred malt variety supplied to Japan for the manufacture of shochu," he said.
"Associated with reduced grower production of La Trobe, limited segregations will be available for La Trobe to maintain supply to this premium market and support the needs of domestic processors.
"The rapid adoption of Spartacus CL has continued, with Spartacus CL now the most popular variety sown across all four port zones."
The variety segregations are split into four recommendations (yes, limited, niche and no) and vary between port zones, making it easier for growers to determine what they should plant.
Yes means a variety is recommended for that production zone, while limited refers to there being just a few segregations of that variety, likely due to low production hectares, limited market demand, a new variety going through market development or phasing out an old variety.
Niche segregations are subject to availability and are only available if a marketer has sufficient tonnage to supply to a domestic or international customer, while no means a variety has been phased out, or marketers are not looking to accumulate this variety in this production zone.
Mr Paynter said Japan had proposed lifting the maximum residue limits (MRL) for imazapyr from 0.1 to 0.7 parts per million and should that occur in 2021, there was potential to export Spartacus CL to Japan for the manufacture of shochu.
"Full acceptance of Spartacus CL for shochu in Japan will result in the phasing out of La Trobe after the 2021/22 harvest," he said.
"If an import tolerance is implemented, shochu buyers will likely start making the switch over to Spartacus CL during the 2020/21 campaign.
"Scope CL has been phased out as a malt variety and will not be segregated after the 2020/21 harvest, however growers can continue to sow Scope CL for the farming system benefits it offers and deliver into feed segregations as there is no longer any international demand for the malt profile of Scope CL barley."
Overall segregation opportunities for Bass, Flinders, La Trobe, RGT Planet and Spartacus CL vary by port zone and for the Kwinana and Albany Ports, within a port zone.
There are four varieties in stage two of Barley Australia's malt accreditation process including Buff, Leabrook, LG Alestar and Maximus CL, which are not included in the current 2021/22 variety receival recommendation plan.
"A decision on the malt accreditation of Leabrook, LG Alestar and Maximus CL is expected in March 2021 and for Buff in March 2022, delayed due to a lack of grain suitable for Stage Two evaluation," Mr Paynter said.
It is worth noting that malt accreditation does not guarantee segregation opportunities."
It's critical to note that while GIWA facilitates the publishing of industry recommendations on what malt variety to grow, it has no control over the actual segregations provided by Bunge or CBH.
Some sites can only offer a single malt barley segregation, whereas other sites may be able to offer two or more malt barley segregations.
Growers can support segregation planning through submission of their area planted information and attending pre-harvest meetings.