Idaho barley

Barley grows in a Southwestern Idaho field. An increase in yield has more than offset a small decrease in acreage this year.

Idaho produced more barley than anticipated this year, which may prompt a state commodity commission to increase its budget.

USDA’s Small Grains 2019 Summary, released Sept. 30, showed more production than the state Barley Commission expected.

“Instead of the 5 to 8% drop in production we were anticipating this year, we are up in overall production by about 2% for 2019 over 2018,” commission administrator Laura Wilder said.

Barley acres harvested in the state dropped 1.9%, from 530,000 to 520,000, USDA reported. But yields increased by nearly 4%, from 101 to 105 bushels per acre — helping production increase from 53.53 million bushels last year to 54.6 million this year, a nation-leading 31.9% share of the U.S. total.

“With these numbers, our Fiscal Year 2020 income should be above what was anticipated during the June budget meeting,” Wilder said. She expects the state Barley Commission board to adjust the budget at its meeting scheduled Oct. 30.

Commissioners budgeting for the July 1 fiscal year anticipated an approximately 5.7% drop in checkoff income, to $657,536, mainly driven by malting companies contracting for less barley grown as they reduce storage inventory. The budget includes a $62,379 checkoff carryover.

The state’s 4,000-plus growers pay 3 cents per hundredweight, collected at the first point of sale, to fund research, marketing and education. Some 75 to 80% of the state’s barley is grown for malting, the rest goes to  food, feed and seed.

Nationwide, USDA estimated barley production at 171 million bushels this year, up 12% from the revised 2018 total of 154 million. The average yield per acre, at 77.4 bushels, was down 0.1 bushel from the previous year.

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