Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a widely grown and highly adaptable cereal crop that is grown predominantly for stockfeed and for malt for the brewing industry. Australia produces high quality barley, with annual production averaging around seven million tonnes per annum. It is Australia’s second largest crop in volume (behind wheat) and is grown across a large geographic area (almost four million hectares) from Western Australia across to the eastern states.
Barley is usually grown for either malting barley or stock feed markets, with different varieties better suited to each end use. However, it is quality standards that determine whether barley grown for the malting market is ultimately accepted, therefore the feed barley market provides a valuable market for any ‘below standard’ malting grain.
Australian growers produce around 2.5 million tonnes of malting barley each year and 4.5 million tonnes of feed barley. Domestic demand for malting barley is around one million tonnes per year and Australian domestic feed use is around two million tonnes each year, resulting in approximately 60% of the total barley crop being exported each year.
Generally, barley is grown as a broadacre crop on large agricultural enterprises (several hundred or thousands of hectares) and commercial production may require a potentially large investment of capital in land, infrastructure and inputs if establishing a new enterprise. It is grown in rotation with winter and summer crops (cereals, oilseeds and grain legumes) depending on climate and availability of irrigation water. It may also be grown in rotation with pasture for grazing enterprises.
Facts and figures
- Barley is a widely grown cereal crop
- It is used mainly for the production of malt for the brewing industry and for stock feed
- Barley is the second largest grain crop (by volume) grown in Australia
- Australia produces around seven million tonnes of barley per annum
- Australia makes up over 30% of the world’s malting barley trade and approximately 20% of the world’s feed barley trade
Barley is grown across most of Australia, except for the Northern Territory and the tropical zones of Australia. Barley in Australia is generally grown for either malting or feedstock with Australian growers producing around 2.5 million tonnes of malting barley and 4.5 million tonnes of feed barley each year.
Domestically, malting barley demand is around one million tonnes per year and Australian domestic feed use is around two million tonnes each year. The remaining Australian production, equating to approximately 60% of production, is exported to countries in Asia and the Middle East.