Grain to Ground

Sometimes things just fall into place. It's not blind luck or fortuitous timing, it's preparation and planning that decree an alignment of the stars. Last week saw us sow into the fertile soils of the brewery farm a crop of barley, ultimately destined for beer production within Van Dieman. It's the second year in which we've committed to the crop, with the 2015 sown crop having been harvested earlier this year and currently being traditionally floor malted in micro batches of 250kgs at a nearby facility in Launceston.

I say that things fall into place in the sense that this is a winter sown barley and can be heavily influenced by the seasonal conditions experienced through what is commonly a cold Tasmanian winter. Winter sown barley varieties grown for malting purposes are generally considered to have better characters, namely a higher fine extract content, a better malt modification, and a lower malt protein than most spring sown varieties of barley.  As with any crop, sowing and pre-emergence climatic conditions play huge role in crop establishment, and it's with great relief that over the past week, we've had an abundance of cloud juice combined with unseasonably mild temperatures, both ideal factors for the precious grains in the ground.

*Perhaps there's been a little too much rain in some areas with Launceston facing a 100 year flood event which has seen areas of the city evacuated and facing flood levels not seen since 1929 Flood Risk

This crop has been sown into an area on the farm that has previously not had cereals grown on it, so it'll be interesting to see what yields and characters we obtain from the slightly higher Krasnozem (red) soil, rather than the more clay dominant paddock we used last year. We set the bar pretty high last year with test results for our barley slotting into the 98% percentile for malting barley, a result that surprised not only us, but seasoned veterans in the area who suggested dry-land cereal production had most certainly been superseded by under irrigation cropping.

We'll be hoping for a wetter spring and summer than we experienced last year, when the crop was salvaged by a couple of isolated rainfall events that I have no doubt saved it from becoming feed barley. Much like last year however, this is a broad scale experiment with some wonderful results at the end once everything falls into place, again through thorough preparation, planning & knowledge.