2020 was a challenging year for a variety of Northwest commodities, but don’t tell that to Idaho barley growers. Idaho Barley Commission Executive Director Laura Wilder said the state had record yields of 110 bushels per acre last year. The success, she added, was due in large part to ideal growing conditions, very few problems during the season, and little rain during harvest.
That’s not to say all of 2020 went smoothly. Problems arose in April when Mexico shut down their breweries, deeming them as ‘non-essential’.
“With our malting capacity in Idaho, one of our three malt houses ships almost exclusively to Mexico,” Wilder said. “That really backed up deliveries from on-farm to the malt facility, causing some problems for growers and also the companies.”
However by June the issue was worked out, and the Mexican market is back to doing well.
Despite that success story, Wilder noted international markets were rough in 2020. And the hope for expansion in Asia did not occur because of the pandemic and stringent export protocols. Wilder added she thinks it will likely be late 2021 before much progress is seen in Asia. But when it comes to domestic sales, the year ahead is looking good.
“We also have had an exciting development domestically. The Scoular Company in Jerome has a barley protein facility that they broke ground on last fall in September. That should be up and running in May. That’s a new market, not taking away from our malt acres.”
Wilder expects a similar number of barley acres planted. She said malt companies are indicating that the new varieties being used are really performing. The barley industry should see consistent production in 2021.
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