Over 85 growers, government and industry representatives, and Cornell personnel gathered on June 2nd at the Robert Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora NY to hear updates on crop development and management practices for small grains including wheat, oats, rye, and barley.
Malting barley was a particular focus of discussion given rising demand for the product resulting from the 2013 New York Farm Brewery Law. To qualify for exemptions from fees and regulations, Farm Breweries must use at least twenty percent of their ingredients from New York, with the required percentage rising significantly in coming years.
Malt provides the fuel that yeast turns into alcohol during the beer brewing process, and barley used for malt must meet strict quality criteria. Successful production requires that growers have access to barley varieties and management strategies that are best suited to the local environment as well as established relationships with commercial malt houses to ensure a market for their product.
Cornell Cooperative Extension and faculty and staff from the SIPS Sections of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology are working together to provide information and resources to maximize success of the industry. These include fact sheets like Ten Keys to Successful Malting Barley Production in New York as well as ongoing variety selection and development by Mark Sorrells and others in the Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics.
Gary Bergstrom, SIPS Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, commented on how much he has enjoyed expanding the focus of his research on diseases of small grains to address management needs of the growing brewing industry. “It’s a program with widespread support from all ends of the political spectrum. Farms, small business, and beer – everyone can get behind those!”