Top grower talks about growing barley

Company name: Verdurmen V.O.F.
Place company: Kloosterzande
Livestock: 180 Belgian Blues, 80 calving cows per year
Land use: 90 ha pasture in nature reserve ‘The Putting’, 20 ha table potatoes, 7 ha sugar beets, 10 ha chicory, 8 ha silage maize, 22 ha wheat, 3 ha barley and 14 ha onion sets.

As a close neighbour of ‘The Swaen’ I’m one of the top growers of malting barley for the malt house. The top growers were created by a project of the Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organization ZLTO. They have taken the initiative to make the chain from the grower to the processor as short as possible with the name ‘Growing The Swaen’. The aim was to create added value for both the growers and the malt house. The growers receive the best possible price for the malting barley, with additional knowledge about choice of varieties, growing conditions, quality and a yield comparison. Through this collaboration the malt house can demonstrate how, where and under what conditions the malting barley is grown.

However, growing malting barley of a good quality is not as easy as it seems. André: “As a top grower, I always find it a big challenge to grow enough kilograms of brewing barley per hectare of the right protein content (between 10 and 11%). Another challenge is to get enough barley grains larger than 2.5 mm. All these conditions are very important for ‘The Swaen’ to be able to make good quality malt.” The quality of the malting barley is strongly dependent on a number of factors. These factors are: fertilization, condition of the soil, weather conditions, plant protection products and the crop that was cultivated on the plot the year before. One of André’s daughters, Maaike Verdurmen, is currently studying at the Higher Agricultural School in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. At the moment, she runs a marketing internship at ‘The Swaen’. During this internship she will investigate whether the international malting market of organic barley malt offers sufficient opportunities for the company ‘The Swaen’ to specialise in this. In order to have a better understanding of this market, an interview has taken place by organic brewery ‘De Leckere’.