Dry weather threatens Britain’s beers

A shortage of rainfall has affected two thirds of Britain’s arable farmers with the majority saying it is impacting on yields, new research has found.

The changes in Britain’s weather and its effect on farming could have a detrimental impact on Britain’s brewing and distilling industries, which rely on 1.7m tonnes of high quality malted barley from the UK’s farmers a year.

The research, commissioned by brewer Molson Coors, revealed that last spring’s drought had a major impact on the harvest for 32% of barley farmers.

And with 2012 starting with a prolonged dry spell, more farmers are likely to see a reduction in yield.

Jerry Dyson, raw materials manager at Molson Coors explained: “Weather conditions always play a major role in both the availability and the quality of malting barley and this was brought into sharp focus most recently with the winter malting barley crop of 2011.

“The very dry spring meant that the winter barley crop had a very high nitrogen level, which significantly reduced its value for brewing.”

One farmer in the Cotswolds, Jake Freestone, has admitted that the changing weather patterns have impacted his business and the way he works.

Freestone said, “The increasingly extreme UK weather patterns have had a noticeable impact on my business and forced me to look at ways of planning ahead and mitigating against those effects. Taking part in the water management-training tool through LEAF and Molson Coors made me aware of influences such as sunshine hours, which I wouldn’t have previously considered.

“The effects of changing weather have motivated me to be proactive in taking these steps.”


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