OTTAWA - A mill in Carp is providing a specialty market for area barley growers.
Carp Flour Mill manager Harry Armstrong outlined the pearl milling operation during Cereal Field Day 2001 held at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa on July 5. Theme for the day was Capitalizing on current and future markets for oats and barley'.
According to Armstrong, the mill in Carp has been running since 1988. There are very few mills in Canada that are pearling barley, which is used in food processing and for the export market.
The Carp mill operates the same as other mills -- with cleaners, grinders, sorters and baggers. The barley passes through the operation, and at the end of the process there are two marketable products. One of those products is sold for livestock feed. The animal feed product consists of mainly hulls with some bran and flour as well. It has a fairly high protein content (14 per cent) and is very palatable. Local farmers purchase the feed product for their animals, Armstrong said.
The other product is the pearl barley, Armstrong explained.
The pearl barley is sold to food processing companies for both domestic and export markets. The domestic market includes small one-half kilogram bags that are sold in grocery stores and specialty shops. As well, barley flour is now available in health food shops. There are also new, emerging domestic markets since researchers have determined that the bran in barley is similar in nutritional value to oat bran. Some processors hope to be able to use the barley bran instead of oats, he said.
The export market includes a lot of sales to Central America and the Middle East where the barley is used in traditional dishes as well as for barley water.
Since the Carp mill uses over 2,000 metric tonnes of barley per year, the mill is very important to local growers. Armstrong said he prefers locally grown barley rather than western barley because western barley has a lot of wild oat seed that is very difficult to clean.
To be used for pearl milling, barley varieties must be compatible to pearling and should be light with white centres. The process also requires a good bushel weight barley (48 pounds per bushel for six-row) and clean seed. "We can't use the barley if it has four to five per cent foreign seeds," said Armstrong
The mill also prefers the barley to be quite dry. "We like the barley to be slightly drier than you would like for the feed industry since a lot is exported and must remain dry for transportation," he explained. And it must smell good.
"It's a matter of good management (on the growers part), he said.
While a number of local farmers are producing barley for the mill, there's still room for more growers, Armstrong added. "We had to bring in barley from the New Liskard area to meet out needs."
Don Kenny is a Richmond-area farmer who grows barley for the Carp Flour Mill. He has been growing barley for the mill for the past 10 years and said he plants about 70 to 80 acres of barley per year, along with corn and soybeans.
Kenny said he grows barley because it fits well into his crop plan. "I like growing barley because it spreads out our planting and harvesting season."
He designates one bin specifically for the crop and stores the barley until March or April and sells it at that time.
Kenny also explained he likes to get the barley planted as early as possible - this year it was in by April 18, shortly after the snow was off the ground. And he plans to harvest the crop around the last week of July.
There is also a good market for the straw. Kenny said he sells it to local dairy operations and berry farms.