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Australia’s Barley Harvest Could Ease Tight Global Supplies

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A forecast of near-record barley production in Australia should bring relief to the world’s barley importers struggling with high prices as well as global stocks that are at multi-decade lows.

Australian government agency ABARES recently estimated 2021/22 barley production of 13.3 million tonnes, up 2% from last year and just shy of a record set in 2016. After Russia, Australia is the No. 2 barley producer and the world’s largest exporter of the grain. More than half of Australia’s barley goes into livestock feed rations, with the rest used by beer brewers and whiskey distillers. 

Global barley stocks are the lowest they’ve been in 38 years, after harvests in the US and Canada got slammed by drought. Production also dropped by double-digit percentages in major producers Russia, Spain, and the UK. Export prices have been trending higher worldwide since July. 

Gro’s Growing Conditions application, which can highlight conditions by specific crop, is showing favorable readings for Australia’s barley. For example, NDVI, an important measure of vegetative health, is currently comparable to the record production year of 2016. For more information about the Growing Conditions app, which is available to Gro Standard subscribers, contact support@gro-intelligence.com

Barley, Australia’s second-biggest crop after wheat, is grown widely around the country, with production almost evenly split among the states of Western Australia and, in the east, New South Wales and Victoria. Barley, often grown in Australia in rotation with other crops, is planted in May and June and grows through the winter months. Harvest is due to get underway next month. 

Japan and Saudi Arabia are currently the biggest customers for Australian barley, after China slapped a tariff on Australian shipments in 2020, disrupting trade flows between the two countries.

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