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Why We Grow Our Own Malting Barley

The late spring in some of the northern states and Canada has got a lot of beer and spirits people concerned about this year’s malting barley crop.


Just emerged barley at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.
Just emerged barley at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.

Deep snow is keeping many farmers out of the fields in Western Canada, a major supplier of malting barley to craft brewers and craft distillers in the United States. The growing season is shorter up there. If weather delays planting too long, many farmers won’t even bother.

It’s more of a mixed bag here in the United States. North Dakota (the biggest barley growing state), Montana and Minnesota are way behind on planting. Idaho and Washington are ahead of schedule. Oregon is moving along at an average pace.

What we don’t want is another year like 2011. A wet spring took hundreds of thousands of barley acres out of production. Planting late isn’t good either. The barley will still be in the growing stage when summer heat arrives. Heat stress will diminish yields and hurt quality.

We at Rogue Spirits feel fortunate to have discovered a nearly perfect terroir for malting barley at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon. Not only are we done planting our Dare™ spring malting barley, the shoots are already emerging. The Risk™ malting barley we planted last fall is several inches tall. This may be our best crop ever.

So why do we grow our own malting barley for Rogue Spirits?

To the left, Risk barley planted in the fall. Right, Dare barley planted in the spring.
To the left, Risk barley planted in the fall. Right, Dare barley planted in the spring.

Farming is about taking risks. Calculated risks. But still risks. There’s always that thought in the back of your head that this might be the year when your crop fails, despite all the work you put in to doing things right. But we’d rather take those risks and grow our own ingredients rather than be at the mercy of someone else’s problems.