Monday, 29 February 2016

The 1952 barley crop (part five)

Almost done with the 1952 barley crop. Almost.

It seems to have been a good year for barley in some countries:

“A record grain crop is reported from Denmark, the barley yield amounts to 2,125,000 tons as against 1,767,000 in 1951.

The crop in Syria was 350,000 tons compared with only 154,700 tons in 1951.

In the United States the final estimate of the 1952 barley crop is 227,000,000 bushels as against 254,300,000 in 1951.

Canada's yield of barley in 1952 was 274,074 bushels compared with 234,000 in 1951.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

Syria, Canada and the USA had at one time all exported large quantities of barley to the UK. Though imports had pretty much ground to nothing during and after the war. 200,000-odd bushels seems a very small crop for Canada. Assuming a bushel of barley to be 50 lbs, that’s only 122,000 cwt. Or bugger all. I’m struggling to believe the crop could be so small. Especially if you look at the table below and see that they exported millions of cwt. To the UK before the war.

I thought I’d take a look at barley imports before, during and after WW II. They make for interesting reading.

(Authority: Trade and Navigation Accounts)
Year ended 31st August Australia Canada Russia Iraq U.S.A. Chile Other Countries Total
cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt. cwt.
1936 892,615 2,692,238 6,759,583 2,399,712 3,543,889 331,342 3,098,862 19,618,141
1937 670,199 626,657 322,304 5,270,584 2,031,655 671,605 8,399,527 17,992,531
1938 1,688,126 5,874,209 2,179,080 3,340,149 3,329,499 342,029 3,647,156 20,400,248
1939 835,126 4,707,322 3,141,703 3,783,659 2,461,117 356,867 2,629,013 17,914,870
1940* 9,146,255
1941* 66,688 664,150 540,050 1,276,772
1942* 34 34
1945* Other Common-wealth Countries Argentine Republic 2,036,552
1946* 1 2,194,875 227 2,195,103
1947 191,960 907,563 240 1,099,763
1948 972,814 60 6,064,507 5,508,353 12,545,734
1949 1,293,517 1,674,111 6,174,600 9,142,228
1950 2,068,450 9,366,235 2,286,108 Morocco 4,844,975 18,565,768
1951 2,137,957 74,845 6,037,568 3,153,702 3,393,373 2,207,419 17,001,865
1952 2,952,005 3,239,322 10,428,526 3,752,089 801.347 1,541,926 22,715,214
1953 2,985,396 8,183,753 3,170,909 4,940,632 164,919 8,983,320 28,428,829
1954 2,374,714 8,196,281 713,766 1,886,652 259,988 2,226,233 4,796,646 20,454,290
* Figures of imports from individual countries for the year 1940 are not available; the figures given for 1941-40 are for years ended 31st December. The quantity of barley imported for malting since the early months of 1940 is negligible.
1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 67.

Before we go any further, I’d like to point something out. These figures aren’t just for malting barley. Which might explain the large quantities from Russia. I’ve never seen malt identified as being from Russian barley. Pre-WW II you see the USA, Chile, Australia and the Middle East mentioned in brewing logs, but nowhere else that I can remember.

You can see from the table how imports completely dried up during the war. And some countries never regained their market in the UK. Most notably the USA. Which had been one of the main sources of barley for British brewing for the first half of the century.

Not sure I understand this:

“It is reported from Scotland that more land is being sown under wheat and this, it is thought, will lead to a reduction in the acreage under barley which might tend to a better price for malting samples next season. This remains to be seen, as there is a lot to come out of the stack yet which could easily be against next season harvest with dire effect. There is little improvement in the price for barley to date, and with the quantity still remaining to be threshed, plus the limited demand for malting barley there seems small hope of prices rising. On the contrary it is feared that much of it will have to be cashed in at feeding rates towards the end of the season.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

Why would malting barley be cheaper if less barley were planted? Surely it should be the other way around?

I’ll end with the price of different types of malt in 1953:

“Current Prices for New Season Malts

Pale ale  208s. to 214s.
Mild ale  192s. to 199s.
Black 179s. to 182s.
Brown 171s. to 174s.
Crystal 164s. to 166s.

Per quarter, delivered to brewery.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 14.

The only surprise for in the prices is that crystal malt is the cheapest. I would have expected black or brown malt. As the malt was roasted anyway, it was usually made from inferior barley.

That’s us done with barley in the early 1950’s. What next, I wonder?


Jeremy Drew said...


I think that the Brewers' Guardian piece from February is saying that, while the decreased acreage would tend to push prices upwards, this could be cancelled out by the release of supplies from the stack. I assume that this is some sort of intervention store. Therefore, for those holding onto an inventory of barley in the hope of a rise in prices for malting, they may chose to sell it as feed instead.

Rob Sterowski said...

I think they mean the price would get better for the farmer.

Anonymous said...

I think it's saying that because less barley is being planted that the price for malting grade barley would go up. However as there is a lot of unprocessed barley in storage yet to be sold that despite production going down sale of old inventory will hold the price down