Barley change at snail’s pace

Jo FulwoodCountryman

New standards for barley will be applied this harvest after a comprehensive review of the industry by the Grains Industry Association of WA.

One of the biggest changes will be a decrease in the allowance for ryegrass ergot from 5cm, down to 4cm this harvest, stepping down to 3cm by 2017-18.

This will bring the WA standards closer into line with Grain Trade Australia national standards for ryegrass ergot, which is a much stricter 0.5cm.

Another major change will be a reduction from 10 snails to two snails allowable in feed barley samples, again in line with GTA standards. The nil-tolerance for snails in malt grades will remain.

Weed-seed counts will also be aligned with GTA’s recently released weed seed categories for all cereals.

According to GIWA’s barley council chairman Steve Tilbrook, the new standards were developed from a seven-month consultation process which included several grower meetings.

He said the review was held to ensure the protection of international markets after two cargoes of barley were rejected by China and Korea, because of the presence of snails in the loads.

“That was one of the issues that bought about this review, and we trying to keep ahead of the game, making sure we don’t lose any market share,” he said.

“It’s important to marketers to ensure their reputations are protected, to secure these international markets for our product.

“While we acknowledge the recommendation in the regard to snail reductions is a big change, we are trying to get people to start looking at how they can reduce the number of snails before they get to harvest.

“We believe more funds could be funnelled into research and development in this area to assist growers, and we hope to see some changes in this regard in the future.”

Mr Tilbrook said in regard to falling numbers, while this would be reviewed, there would be no change for the coming harvest.

“Until we set this standard for falling numbers we need to do further research on the impact of falling numbers on the end uses for the malt product,” he said.

Condingup farmer Lyndon Mickel, who is also a member of GIWA’s Barley Council, said it was important to achieve a balance between responding to market concerns, and encouraging growers to keep barley in their rotations.

“You have to balance being realistic with the trade requirements, we don’t want growers to be turned away from growing barley because the delivery standards are too tight,” he said.

“But by the same token, we need to respond to international market requirements, and I think these recommendations works for both parties.”

Mr Mickel, who is a former president of the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association, said end users should be paying a premium for WA grown malt barley.

“We would hope growers will see a financial reward for producing a premium product, with tight delivery standards,” he said.

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