New Zealand’s Gladfield Malt has announced that its 2018-19 crop is the South Island company’s best vintage ever.
Gladfield’s announcement is good news for the industry, following worrying reports that malt prices and stocks are under pressure due to climate concerns in Europe and on Australia’s east and west coasts.
New Zealand has experienced a comparatively cool, wet spring and a temperate, early summer followed by hot, dry conditions over the last few weeks, making for a bumper crop.
Gladfield Malt director Doug Michael said in a statement that Gladfield and its grower-supplier counterparts in New Zealand are “flat out” harvesting their 2018-19 barley crops.
“It is always an exciting but also nervous time,” he said.
“Unless you have been brought up in the farming game it is hard to comprehend why you would do it when at any minute you can lose a whole year’s work to mother nature.”
Michael explained that the right weather conditions at the right time influence the quality of the grain. He said that cool temperatures with ample moisture during spring help create healthy plants, which sets everything up for good flowering and pollination.
“This leads to the formation of healthy embryos especially when there is an absence of rain or humid conditions during flower set which reduces the risk of ‘black point’ – a fungal disease which increases high polyphenol levels in beer.
“Bright sunshine and dry conditions during grain ripening and harvesting create clean, bright grains, which reduce the level of polyphenols in the beer and give clean flavours with a bright colour.”
Michael said that farmers are much like craft brewers – eternal optimists and compulsive gamblers.
“The best way to explain it to people outside the industry is to imagine your boss paying you your wages in five-dollar notes which he hangs on the clothesline at the end of each day and you aren’t allowed to get your hands on them until the end of the year.
“You can only look at them all year long.
“You are definitely not allowed to pick up any that get blown or washed off the line and if the clothesline gets hit by a thunderstorm a day before the end of the year then bad luck… but don’t worry there is always next year!”