Boortmalt putting plans in place for smoother harvest

Steps are being taken to ensure that the 2020 harvest runs smoothly at Boortmalt intakes this season.

Tom Bryan – Boortmalt – gave an update on the season ahead at the Teagasc/Boortmalt Malting Barley Conference held in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, on Monday, February 10.

Starting off, Tom commented: “The good news is the brand new malting plant is at full capacity from now on.”

He also explained that repairs to the plant, which suffered a partial collapse last July, are about halfway towards completion. Four steeps will be replaced with eight, one of which is an eco-steep, which is to be more water efficient.

The good news on that is we will need the full quantity of malting barley for 2020; so around 180,000t.

Reducing pressure at intakes

Noting that this will put pressure on intakes, Tom explained that the company has put a plan in place to ensure things run more efficiently this season.

For starters, there will be 12 intake and drying sites in the 2020 harvest.

Our drying capacity which was about 9,000t/day is now going to be 13,500t for the harvest of 2020.

“So, we’ve increased the drying capacity almost by 50%. That’s thanks to our third parties who have kindly decided to build additional drying capacity.

“Hopefully that will increase the speed of the intakes and certainly reduce the amount of times that we get caught and have to close down because we physically can’t dry the barley.”

All intakes, apart from one, will have just one variety to avoid switching at driers.

The varieties for the season are: Planet; Prospect; and Laureate.

Tom noted that the company is constantly looking at new varieties and there are some on the way. He is also hopeful that some of the winter malting varieties will be suitable for malting.

Addressing rejections

Earlier on in the conference, Eoin Lyons – the advisor on the Teagasc/Boortmalt joint programme – noted that rejection was playing a role in reducing the profitability of malting barley.

“We definitely have taken the view that we want to reduce the level of rejection as much as possible. It’s one of our targets,” Tom added.

“We take no pleasure at all in rejecting a load of barley on a farmer and basically we have to explain why we’re doing it. Why has this barley been rejected? What’s the cause of it? What can we do about it?

“Part of the function of this process with Teagasc on the joint programme is to help to reduce the level of rejection as much as possible.”

Tom encouraged farmers to attend the field walks which are run as part of the programme, commenting: “They’re fantastic. There’s a lot to be learned out there from growers talking to one another at these events.”

The million dollar question is on price and pricing structure. On this, Tom noted that this was not within his work remit and that a new team in Boortmalt are working on this.