Public interest in sourcing local foods has extended into beverages, and the current demand for local brewing and distilling ingredients is quickly increasing. One new market that has generated interest of both farmers and end-users is malted barley. This only stands to reason since the Northeast alone is home to over 175 microbreweries and 35 craft distillers. Until recently, local malt was not readily available to brewers or distillers. However, a rapid expansion of the fledgling malting industry will hopefully give farmers new markets and end-users hope of readily available malt. To date, the operating maltsters struggle to source enough local grain to match demand for their product. In addition to short supplies, the local malt barley that is available often does not meet the rigid quality standards for malting. One major obstacle for growers is Fusarium head blight (FHB) infection of grain. This disease is currently the most important disease facing organic and conventional grain growers in the Northeast, resulting in loss of yield, shriveled grain, and most importantly, mycotoxin contamination. A vomitoxin called Deoxynivalenol (DON) is considered the primary mycotoxin associated with FHB. The spores are usually transported by air currents and can infect plants at flowering through grain fill. Eating contaminated grain greater than 1ppm poses a health risk to both humans and livestock.


Vermont, University of Vermont

Publication Date