Montana is the friendliest state for beer, says the financial publication Motley Fool (though I have a different take on that idea). Nevertheless, here’s one statistic where Montana once again tops the chart: barley production.
The American Malting Barley Association released its Prospective Plantings Report this week, noting that U.S. producers intend to seed 3.17 Million acres of barley for the 2014 crop year. The number represents a nine percent decrease from 2013 and would be the third smallest seeded area on record.
Montana tops the list for anticipated acreage with an expected 900,000 acres of barely to be planted. That would be down from last year’s 990,000 acres, but the same as 2012. Idaho, with 660,000 acres and North Dakota with 650,000 acres are the next highest states.
According to Scott Heisel of the AMBA, the drop in predicted acreage for Montana in 2014 reflects normal fluctuations in the industry and should not be considered significant. As 2013 was a banner year for barley in Canada, there are large stocks still available leading to a general decrease in acreage across the board for this year.
For the 2012 marketing year (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013), maltsters and brewers purchased 27.6 million bushels of Montana malting barley to produce malt, according to a study by the Montana Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That was a 15.8 percent increase over the prior year. Malting barley varieties made up approximately 66% of the barley planted in Montana in 2013.