An additional guaranteed minimum premium is being provided for the first time ever this season by the Explorer spring barley contract for British Budweiser.
Available through Viterra UK, the premium is on top of a 1.75-2.05% nitrogen specification well-suited to the heavier land the variety prefers and a guaranteed local market unaffected by export concerns in a post-EU world.
Lee Robinson, head of seed for Agrii, says Explorer’s speed of growth, grass weed competitiveness and early maturity also helps make contract-growing for Budweiser a valuable all-round risk management tool.
“With the winter wheat area rebounding strongly from last season and more ‘normal’ spring cereal plantings, we expect feed barley prices to be much closer to wheat values for Harvest 2021,” he says.
“We also foresee malting premiums maintaining their recent firmness to offer improved prospects for UK growers.”
After the disappointing barley markets of the past two years, Mr Robinson says Agrii and Viterra feel it is only right to underline their commitment to Explorer growers with the additional assurance of a guaranteed minimum premium over feed barley.
Uptake of Explorer growing since the launch of the first contract in 2015 means Budweiser has been able to progressively replace all its previously-imported supplies for British brewing with home-grown barley.
Sourcing 100% of its barley from British growers – as it now does – has both reduced Budweiser’s carbon footprint and improved its production security.
The brewer continues to work closely with its maltsters, Viterra and Agrii to consolidate and extend contract-growing to meet its UK market development plans.
This provides heavy land growers in East Anglia, the east Midlands and central southern England with valuable extra spring cropping security as well as margin-earning and blackgrass management opportunities.
Having grown Explorer on the Budweiser contract from the beginning, grower Nick Paton says he values the variety’s ability to come out of the ground running and competitiveness in spring cropping on his heavy soils.
“The backup we get from Agrii gives us the confidence to commit up to a third of our annual cropping to Explorer every year, allowing us to make significant improvements in our black-grass control while earning respectable margins,” says Mr Paton.
“Being part of a group supplying all the barley for premium quality British-brewed Budweiser is a source of considerable pride for us.”