Examining varieties of alternative grain crop: Malt barley and its efficacy in a double-grain cropping system in New Jersey

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,543.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2019
Grant Recipient: Swampy Vale Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Henry Muehlbauer
Swampy Vale Farm

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley


  • Crop Production: crop rotation
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, value added
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    As new microbreweries continue to open in the United States there is an increasing demand for sourcing local ingredients, such as malted barley. Barley has been shown to be a sustainable addition to a double-cropping with corn and soybeans, but research has only recently begun to identify which varieties are suited to the Northeast, specifically New Jersey. The goal of this project is to establish an on farm variety trial of winter malt barley in New Jersey to determine which varieties have the highest yields and most vigor, while also attaining the malt barley qualities most desired by local malters and microbreweries.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    We propose that trialing an alternative specialty grain crop as part of a double cropping system will provide a more profitable solution for New Jersey grain farmers. With the explosion of microbreweries in the northeast, along with rising interest in sourcing local ingredients, malt barley offers a promising solution as an alternative specialty grain crop.

    We will do a variety trial comparing four selected varieties of 2-row and 6-row malt barley to determine which, if any are promising as an alternative second grain in a double cropping system for current grain farmers in New Jersey. Our primary objectives for this trial are as follows:

    To compare 4 winter malt barley varieties to determine which, if any meet standard quality parameters when produced in a double cropping grain system.

    To determine if planting, maintaining and harvesting winter malt barley will be economically sustainable for grain farmers in New Jersey.


    To examine varieties of winter malt barley as an alternative grain crop in a double-cropping system in New Jersey a 10 acre field trial will be conducted on our 129 acre grain farm. The trial will be set up in a randomized complete block design evaluating 4 different varieties of winter malt barley, both 2-row and 6-row varieties, with 4 replications of each variety at our grain farm and another collaborative grain farm in Pittstown, NJ. A harvest sample will be taken from each of the 16 plots to determine yield and from this sample a 2 quart subsample will be taken for general and micro-malt analysis at Deer Creek Malt House, PA.

    Field Preparation:

    A soil sample will be taken in the fall of 2016 after the corn is harvested to determine the soil requirements and necessary fertilizer for upcoming winter barley planting.

    Following field corn harvest in late September, corn stover will be cut down by means of disking. A 10 acre field will be disked for the trial using a 1020 Kewanee Disk on a 4320 John Deere tractor.

    Field plots will be delineated by markers to separate varieties and replications.


    The field trial will be planted using a 1560 John Deere no-till drill on a 1086 International tractor.

    The tractor will be set to a 7-7.5” spacing between rows and a 1” depth, with a seed rate of 62-120 lbs./acre and live seed population of 800,000 seeds/acre.

    Fertilizer will be applied as per soil test recommendations within the day following planting.

    Bird repellent tape will be strung onto stakes on the four corners of each plot to deter birds, the primary animal pest to disturb barley.

    We will use integrated pest management threshold levels to monitor whether pesticides are necessary throughout the growing season.

    We will record observations of each plot every week during early, mid, and late season.

    Early season observations: average germination rate

    Mid season observations: height (cm), general health and vigor (rating scale 1-5).

    Late season observations: lodging (rating scale 1-5), winter survival rate (%)

    Daily weather log to monitor the growing season.


    In spring of 2017 we will use the Hans-Ulrich HEGE 125B combine with a 4 ft. wide cutter to harvest a single pass through the center of each of the 16 plots to obtain a sample.

    From each sample we will record yield (bu/acre) of each plot.

    A 2 quart subsample will be taken from each plots’ initial sample to be sent out for chemical analysis of test weight, grain moisture (%), plumpness, thin kernel percentage, peeled or broken kernels, DON (vomitoxin), germination capacity, protein content, carbohydrate content, and enzymatic concentration (ß-amylase).

    The combine will be cleaned between each plot to ensure no contamination takes place. Chemical Analysis:
    Subsamples from each plot will be sent to Deer Creek Malt House for evaluation. Statistical Analysis:

    All statistical analysis will be performed using a randomized complete block design.

    We will be using the statistical software package SAS to determine statistically significant differences across each of the range of evaluations. For each evaluation parameter we will run an ANOVA and test of LSD to determine which varieties are statistically different.


    Late September 2016- Corn will be harvested and corn stover will be disked.
    Soil samples will be taken at both trial sites to determine the baseline fertilizer needs prior to planting barley..

    Beginning/Mid- October 2016- Barley fields will be fertilized according to soil test results and bird tape will be set up in fields.

    Mid October –May(harvest date) 2016/2017- Weekly observations will be made on both trials for germination rates, health and vigor of plants, lodging, winter survival, and pests. Weather will also be monitored daily via the Rutgers Snyder Research farm weather station.

    May/June 2017- Barley will be harvested and yields will be determined from a harvest sample. A 2 quart subsample will then be taken for general and micro-malt analysis at Deer Creek Malt House, Pennsylvania. Statistical analysis of data will also be performed shortly after the data is collected.

    We will use the data collected to run a cost-benefit analysis of the economic feasibility of winter malt barley production in New Jersey.

    September 2017- “Twilight meeting” at the Snyder will be held at the Snyder Farm.


    To effectively disseminate results obtained from a winter malt barley variety trial will host a “twilight meeting” in partnership with the Rutgers Snyder Research Farm and Dr. Jim Simon, Rutgers professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology and project leader on the NESARE Partnership Grant: Establishment and Marketing of Hops Production in the Mid-Atlantic. To promote and market a “twilight meeting” we will work with the Rutgers Extension, which offers twilight meetings for researchers to share new findings with farmers, as well as the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, in an effort to involve New Jersey craft brewers and promote locally grown, locally produced New Jersey craft beer. We believe that a collaborative meeting to review results from our trial on the efficacy of growing winter malt barley in New Jersey, along with reviewing the results of the Partnership Grant on hops production in the mid-Atlantic, will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the potential of this specialty grain crop and its corresponding market. The “twilight meeting” would offer a means for malt barley growers, hop growers, malt houses, brewers, and other farmers, to not only learn about malt barley, but learn about it with respect to the rising microbrewery industry in New Jersey. By holding a meeting focusing on research of malted barley and hops we can connect growers to malters to brewers, encouraging the establishment of a supply chain in which participants feel a sense of support and community in their craft.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.