Almost just as high as wheat have been growth rates of worldwide barley yields over the years, whereby growth has been less steady. In fact, main momentum in this respect has been in the last 10 years (in other words since the higher grain prices phase). In this period, yield growth for barley has actually been markedly greater than for wheat. But the barley yield increase is due only to a small extent to cultivation intensity or breeding advances. At least just as decisive has been the withdrawal of barley growing from locations with low yield potential. In structural terms, barley will remain weak in the coming years. This is because the growing areas are not getting any larger and yield increases through technical and breeding advances remain modest. Therefore the price gap between wheat and barley based on yearly averages could well narrow. That barley is more expensive than wheat, or at least sells at the same price as at present, will nevertheless be the exception. For high yield regions such as Germany, this represents opportunities.
Barley growing areas have suffered a complete breakdown. Growing areas worldwide have almost halved in the last three decades. The replacement of barley (above all through maize but partly, too, by oilseeds) has taken place mainly in areas where, as in Russia, the Ukraine and East Europe, 2 t/ha represented a good yield. In the high yield growing regions of West Europe or in Canada with averages of 4 to 5 t/ha, shrinkage in growing area is much less marked. In this situation the average yield therefore increases without any further effort.