We are always looking for ways to increase profitability for small grain growers and are seeing a potential in additional small grains for specialty products. Much work has been done to develop a chia variety for Kentucky, and our organization gets countless requests from the growing brewing and distilling industry for barley and rye. We have worked for years with Virginia Tech on barley, and they recently became involved in a growing cooperative national research project that is studying winter malt barley. Trials are being conducted in Kentucky.
Also, this year, we funded a project with UK to update management practices for barley and rye produced in the commonwealth. If you’re involved with the barley or rye production or want to be, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our organization to be a resource when introduction requests come our way.
Kentucky food processing
There are several food processors located in Kentucky. Access to flour and wheat products from companies like Siemer Milling provides economic incentive to locate within the Commonwealth. Markets are also developing for specialty food grains, such as chia, barley, sorghum, and spelt. Kentucky is responding by making agronomic improvements for Kentucky growing conditions.
The latest bourbon economic impact study reports that Kentucky growers harvest enough corn and wheat each year to supply distillers’ grain needs with locally grown grains. KDA member distillers indicated a willingness to purchase a greater percentage of their corn and wheat from Kentucky producers provided those producers could meet price and quality requirements. We are funding production research to improve barley and rye production for this $8.5 billion signature industry.
With a large equine industry, straw is an economic choice for bedding on Kentucky horse farms. The University of Kentucky began testing straw production and quality several years ago to address market demand.