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Malt Outlook: Stable Supply and New Barleys

Recent barley reports and new recommended varieties offer distillers and brewers some welcome assurances and a glimpse of the future, including barleys better suited to nontraditional growing areas.

Gabe Toth Feb 20, 2024 - 11 min read

Malt Outlook: Stable Supply and New Barleys Primary Image

Photo: Craft Spirits & Distilling

A pair of recently released reports from the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) show that the domestic barley market is continuing to rebound from a brutal 2021 crop year.

AMBA’s barley crop report, based on the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service data, indicate that overall production was up almost 6 percent in 2023 over the previous year, increasing from 175 to 185 million bushels. Average yield also was up almost a bushel per acre.

Ashley McFarland, vice president and technical director at AMBA, says the numbers—which reflect data as of December 1 and will be slightly refined—show a strong trend of growers and maltsters continuing to replenish barley supplies. Farmers seeded 5 percent more acres in 2023, and they harvested 4 percent more, after seeing production dip 30 percent in 2021.

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Gabe Toth is a distiller, former brewer, and industry journalist in northern Colorado. He is the lead distiller at The Family Jones production facility and has written books about floor malting and fermented food.