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Malting barley growers hit by reduced drinks demand

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Malting barley growers are being impacted by a reduced demand in the drinks sector.

Boortmalt has contacted malting barley growers saying the tonnage of malting barley required for harvest 2020 will be reduced.

In a message sent to growers in recent days, Boortmat said there will be a reduction this year and that it is still liaising with its customers and other stakeholders about their exact requirements.

According to a message sent to growers, the company said this is as a result of reduced demand due to the drinks sector being “severely impacted” by the current government’s policy in relation to controlling the spread of COVID 19

Malting barley growers are worried that contracted tonnages for Boortmalt could be cut by as much as 30-40pc this year.

It is understood that IFA is in discussions with Boortmalt regarding the implications of the Covid-19 crisis on demand for malting barley.

Boortmalt generally processes around 120,000t of malting barley for the brewing and distilling industries through its site at Athy in Co Kildare.

However, the closure of pubs and restaurants across Europe has hit sales for many of the country's major brewers such as Guinness, and therefore demand for malting barley.

Growers have called on Boortmalt to make an early announcement regarding this year's malting barley requirements.

Cereal farmers point out that they will increase current nitrogen applications, and push for extra yield, if their crops are not going for malting barley but are switched instead to feed barley.

Malting barley for brewing generally requires around 120 units of nitrogen per acre, with distilling crops getting 110 units.

However, feed barley crops take 130-140 units of nitrogen per acre.

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