And Then They Came For The Beer…

The Climate Criers are wetting their pants about Barley and Beer now.

Note this is from 2009. The point being the current “news” of barley and beer is a recycle of one they ran 9 years ago.

Colleges have always been a primary point of rally for green initiatives. Now, a threat to malting barley has created a new call for support as the price and availability of beer is being threatened by climate change according to a study conducted and released in 2008.

The potential for the alcohol industry to be effected by climate change has been a concern for some time, but it is hitting a feverish pitch and garnering support and calls to action from campuses across the country. In Lawrence, Kansas, Greenpeace volunteers held a recruitment event called “Save the Ales” earlier this week to tackle how global warming effects college drinking.

“It’s not really about the beer,” John Gawin, Greenpeace intern, said. “It just shows you how climate change can effect even small things.”

Here’s a link to Nature for 2018 doing that recycling.

Decreases in global beer supply due to extreme drought and heat

Wei Xie, Wei Xiong, Jie Pan, Tariq Ali, Qi Cui, Dabo Guan, Jing Meng, Nathaniel D. Mueller, Erda Lin & Steven J. Davis

Nature Plants (2018)


Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat. Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth System Models, the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed. We couple a process-based crop model (decision support system for agrotechnology transfer) and a global economic model (Global Trade Analysis Project model) to evaluate the effects of concurrent drought and heat extremes projected under a range of future climate scenarios. We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide. Average yield losses range from 3% to 17% depending on the severity of the conditions. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer and ultimately result in dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption (for example, −32% in Argentina) and increases in beer prices (for example, +193% in Ireland). Although not the most concerning impact of future climate change, climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer.

So I guess we’ll all just have to give up and swap to Bourbon made from corn that grows in hot places like Iowa… After all, Barley couldn’t possibly grow in places that get as hot as Arizona, our future and destiny temperature (per the wet pants brigade) right?

Oh, wait:

Arizona Durum wheat production down, barley up this year
2017 Arizona Durum wheat yields average 97 bushels/acre; barley yield at 125 bushels/acre

Looking at barley, NASS estimates 2017 Arizona production at 2.38 million bushels, 24 percent higher than the 2016 crop. Total barley state acreage harvested is forecast at 19,000 acres, up 4,000 acres from the 15,000 acres harvested last year.

The average 2017 Arizona barley yield is forecast at 125.0 bushels per acre, or 3.0 bushels per acre less than last year. As of July 2, Arizona barley growers had harvested 87 percent of their barley crop, compared with 73 percent last year.

Oh, never mind… Looks like you can grow barley in Arizona, and lots of it. They expanded planting into some areas that had not been in production before, so bu/acre went down, but the total crop went up a lot. Bu/acre 28% higher than wheat too.

So I guess we can worry about the beer when ALL of the USA & Canada are hotter and drier than Arizona… Call me when that happens… /sarc;

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events, Food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to And Then They Came For The Beer…

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh this is a good one:

    Yield / area (in Kilos / hectare) rising steadily from 1648 in 1961 up to 3857 in 2013.

    But wait, weren’t we supposedly going form near ideal to horribly burning up during that time?

    Barley production in the United States
    Year  Production (tonnes)  Area (ha) 	Yield
                                          (kilos/ha) Seed (tonnes) Notes
    2013 	4,682,735 	1,214,058 	3,857 	140,000 	[1]
    2012 	4,796,081 	1,312,801 	3,653 	140,000 	[1]
    2011 	3,391,710 	906,100 	3,743 	130,365 	[1]
    2010 	3,924,870 	997,560 	3,934 	104,288 	[1]
    2009 	4,949,370 	1,259,800 	3,928 	108,751 	[1]
    2008 	5,229,590 	1,529,324 	3,419 	128,019 	[1]
    2007 	4,574,520 	1,417,224 	3,227 	152,426 	[1]
    2006 	3,922,552 	1,194,240 	3,284 	143,020 	[1]
    2005 	4,613,400 	1,322,930 	3,487 	124,536 	[1]
    2004 	6,090,565 	1,627,260 	3,742 	139,300 	[1]
    2003 	6,058,777 	1,912,970 	3,167 	161,900 	[1]
    2002 	4,940,197 	1,668,537 	2,960 	188,900 	[1]
    2001 	5,406,619 	1,729,240 	3,126 	181,100 	[1]
    2000 	6,919,229 	2,104,388 	3,288 	178,534 	[1]
    1999 	6,103,000 	1,916,000 	3,185 	217,700 	[1]
    1998 	7,666,600 	2,373,000 	3,230 	195,900 	[1]
    1997 	7,835,000 	2,508,000 	3,124 	217,700 	[1]
    1996 	8,544,000 	2,714,000 	3,148 	241,700 	[1]
    1995 	7,824,000 	2,541,000 	3,079 	256,900 	[1]
    1994 	8,161,000 	2,698,100 	3,024 	241,700 	[1]
    1993 	8,666,000 	2,732,900 	3,171 	257,000 	[1]
    1992 	9,908,000 	2,948,200 	3,360 	285,000 	[1]
    1991 	10,109,000 	3,405,000 	2,968 	281,000 	[1]
    1990 	9,192,000 	3,047,000 	3,016 	314,000 	[1]
    1989 	8,800,000 	3,364,000 	2,615 	293,900 	[1]
    1988 	6,314,000 	3,090,000 	2,043 	326,600 	[1]
    1987 	11,354,300 	4,029,500 	2,817 	341,800 	[1]
    1986 	13,249,000 	4,846,000 	2,734 	389,700 	[1]
    1985 	12,850,000 	4,691,000 	2,739 	463,700 	[1]
    1984 	13,020,000 	4,540,000 	2,867 	465,000 	[1]
    1983 	11,066,000 	3,937,900 	2,810 	424,500 	[1]
    1982 	11,232,900 	3,647,400 	3,079 	374,500 	[1]
    1981 	10,309,300 	3,657,500 	2,818 	346,200 	[1]
    1980 	7,862,600 	2,938,000 	2,676 	346,200 	[1]
    1979 	8,343,000 	3,046,000 	2,739 	302,600 	[1]
    1978 	9,901,210 	3,742,570 	2,645 	296,100 	[1]
    1977 	9,313,713 	3,936,727 	2,365 	365,800 	[1]
    1976 	8,338,828 	3,415,095 	2,441 	396,250 	[1]
    1975 	8,255,115 	3,487,128 	2,367 	341,800 	[1]
    1974 	6,502,621 	3,209,112 	2,026 	341,800 	[1]
    1973 	9,088,373 	4,167,435 	2,180 	309,200 	[1]
    1972 	9,181,666 	3,904,272 	2,351 	392,000 	[1]
    1971 	10,068,853 	4,090,141 	2,461 	370,000 	[1]
    1970 	9,060,146 	3,930,859 	2,304 	392,000 	[1]
    1969 	9,298,494 	3,868,013 	2,403 	348,000 	[1]
    1968 	9,279,401 	3,939,115 	2,355 	348,000 	[1]
    1967 	8,138,822 	3,735,924 	2,178 	370,000 	[1]
    1966 	8,538,543 	4,148,617 	2,058 	348,000 	[1]
    1965 	8,559,056 	3,709,944 	2,307 	370,000 	[1]
    1964 	8,406,892 	4,160,000 	2,020 	348,000 	[1]
    1963 	8,554,000 	4,548,000 	1,880 	392,000 	[1]
    1962 	9,314,000 	4,944,000 	1,883 	457,000 	[1]
    1961 	8,546,000 	5,183,000 	1,648 	501,000 	[1]
  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like the fear of future shortage of barley and price hikes might be realized… because… they over planted and produced way too much in prior years and got burned. Classic ag problem of adjustment cycle out of phase with growing cycle.

    The ups and down of ag commodities is sadly a familiar cycle for American farmers. In the last few years, barley was a bright spot on the agricultural landscape — especially with declining wheat prices. According to The Great Falls Tribune: In 2013, the crop hit record prices, with Montana’s barley growers cashing in on nearly $273 million in sales that year. That encouraged more production, pushing supply beyond demand.

    The slide for barley has continued ever since. World barley stocks will end next season at their lowest in more than 30 years, as the grain continues to fall out of favor with farmers, noted In the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report (released March 2017): Producers intend to seed 2.55 million acres of barley for the 2017 crop year, down 17 percent from the previous year. If realized, seeded area for barley will be the lowest on record. In Montana, acreage is expected to be down 30 percent from 2016. In North Dakota, planted acreage is expected to decrease by 36 percent from last year. Those are some pretty gobsmacking numbers.

    Last year, we were talking about a barley surplus. Around 75 percent of the barley grown in the United States is produced in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington. It’s an essential brewing commodity, and over the last few years farmers have been aggressively growing more barley for brewers, distillers, food, feed and even pharmaceuticals. Maybe they’ve been too aggressive — at least for brewers. From a solid feature on Idaho barley in the Times-News and out of Twin Falls.

    Burdensome barley stocks led to brewing companies to cut both the number and price of malt barley contracts
    in Idaho. As a result, the 17 percent reduction in barley acreage wasn’t unexpected in Idaho. Nationwide, growers planted just 2.376 million acres of barley, down 28 percent from last year. That’s about one-third of the barley planted just 20 years ago.

    So the climate isn’t an issue at all. Just way too much being produced caused everyone to back off production and contracts and take a breath. Typical commodity problem in an era of increasing production / acre. Any small drop in supply leads to a price hike leads to LOTS more production leads to a price drop leads to folks swapping to some other crop…

    There’s no shortage of barley. There’s no difficulty growing lots and lots more of it. The only problem is one of overcapacity leading to low prices and folks pulling back supply efforts.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    Obviously these people know nothing about beer making. You do not brew good beer out any old Barley.It takes special varieties to make good beer, so the larger brewers forward contract with known growers for their needed production. In times of shortage the cows can eat something else because good beer making barley is far too valuable to feed to cows.Good beer making barley actually requires different climatic conditions then heavy producing feed barley’s so growing Beer making barley’s is a specialty crop…pg

  4. Another Ian says:

    Or at least they thought they did

    “Brewers Strike Back at Fake “End of Beer” Climate Change News”

    IIRC Napoleon was supposed to have said something about enemies and mistakes

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    It’s about 1/2 for beer and 1/2 for cattle feed and human food is a trivial amount. My suspicion is that the guys growing under contract ship any sub-par parts of the field off to the cattle market, but that’s just a suspicion. Usually farmers get dinged if the crop sample isn’t up to snuff, so I’d be careful to make sure it was…

    The other interesting bit is that the rate of barely planting varies with the contracted amounts. Essentially you can’t look at a drop of production and say anything more than that the brewers didn’t contract for as much.

    @Another Ian:

    There’s a hidden belief in that referenced article from the WUWT link. That is the belief that Barley does not grow well in warm places. That is just not true.

    Barley has the feature that it grows well in cold places (like just above freezing even for starting to sprout – as soon as the snow melts) so most of it is grown in places like Montana and Idaho (and even Alaska). BUT, and it is a very big but… I’ve grown it in my back yard in the California Summer and it loved it. I’d intended to try it as a winter crop, but had some that bugs had gotten into so just scattered it in the garden for “whatever” to eat. Then a bunch of it sprouted and grew…. So essentially Idaho must get warmer than a California Summer before barley “has issues”.

    Notice that the growth rate gain is set to limit at 95F. That doesn’t mean the barley stops growing then, only that it doesn’t grow FASTER at 98 F than at 95F.

    Barley Growing Degree Day Calculation

    Temperature or heat units are called growing degree days (GDD) and are calculated by subtracting the lower threshold (base) temperature from the average daily air temperature. Although the lower growth limit for barley is about 42 °F, Bauer et al (1992) found better correlation between accumulated GDD and barley growth stage by defining the lower threshold temperature as 32 °F (0 °C). This also makes conversion between Celsius and Fahrenheit GDD’s much easier. Average daily air temperature is calculated by averaging the daily maximum and minimum air temperatures.
    In Formula Form

    The Daily Average Temp (°F) = (Daily Max Temp °F + Daily Min Temp °F) / 2


    The Daily GDD = Daily Average Temperature (°F) – 32 °F

    Several additional constraints on maximum and minimum temperature were introduced to eliminate very low or very high temperatures that retard or prevent growth of wheat (Bauer et al., 1984). We have included those same temperature restrictions in the GDD calculations for barley because it’s so similar to wheat. They are:

    1. If daily Max or daily Min Temp 70 °F (21 °C) then it’s set equal to 70 °F (21 °C).

    3. After Haun stage 2.0; If daily Max Temp > 95 °F (35 °C) it’s set equal to 95 °F (35 °C).

    So once Idaho gets to well over 95 F in the WINTER (otherwise you just shift when you grow it…) then we start to temperature limit the ADDED growth rate from beneficial temperature…

    That computer game passing as “science” is just demonstrating how ignorant the authors are about actual plant growth and farming.

  6. Steven Fraser says:

    Interesting follow-up elsewhere… The ‘study’ was designed with PR in mind, as a way to get attention, thinking that a ‘Beer Threat’ would attract attention to climate change.

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