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Malting Barley

Automated Malting Barley Inspection

The VideometerLab, with its spectral imaging technology, is a powerful tool for automated and reproducible malting barley quality control. 
The instrument’s 20 wavelenghts and the image analysis tools in its software allow to detect and discriminate a broad variety of barley features. 
The Videometer standardized recipes are trained to automatically and accurately detect some of the most critical traits of malting barley for its approval. Among others: 

• Healthy Kernels
• Broken Kernels
• Inert Material and Foreign Seeds
• Fusarium & Mold Infected Kernels
• Skinned Barley
• Immature Kernels

Read about Viking Malt’s experience with the VideometerLab for automated barley inspection.

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Malting Barley Inspection VideometerLab with Autofeeder

Incoming barley may be inspected 8-9 grams at a time in 90 mm petri dishes. This is flexible but often we need to test larger samples then VideometerLab can be equipped with the autofeeder option shown on the left. 

With the autofeeder it is possible to measure samples between 50-1500 g.
Running the same sample through many times over several months and adulterating a large sample (560 g) with a handful of Fusarium spp. grains shows that this analysis has a high reproducibility among several presentations and over time. It also shows that the sensitivity is high compared to the variation of the analysis.

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High Reproducibility and Sensitivity

The following examples shows the results of quality inspection performed on the same sample of 560g of malting barley over a period of 3 months. 
The sample was analysed and measured repeatedly over time with the VideometerLab with Autofeeder option.
As shown by the results, the autofeeder option allows for high reproducibility in results over time. Additionally, we are shown that by adding few infected and partially infected seeds to the 560 g sample gives a significant rise in detected infection level.

Incoming Barley Inspection Results


Mycotoxin Potential

The most reported mycotoxins in beers at relevant levels are Fusarium spp. metabolites like DON. In order to assess the potential for mycotoxin in the malt and the beer we quantify the amount of red type Fusarium in the incoming barley. Red type Fusarium is measured by quantifying all Fusarium color signatures in red, pink, and orange for each grain. In the left image we see the analysis result performed on the barley image to the right. This shows red type Fusarium as red and gray molds as black. See presentation below.


Gushing Potential

Gushing is another important quality problem for breweries that primarily relate to malt quality. “The substances responsible for gushing are hydrophobic polypeptides derived from several mold strains—most commonly those denoted as Fusarium.” Red type Fusarium combined with gray mold (molds ranging from white to black) assessment will indicate the gushing potential of the malt. Gray mold can further be used as an indicator of poor general barley quality.



Grain skinning is full or partial loss of the husk on barley kernels and is a serious problem in the malting process. Skinning makes the malting process uneven and skinned grains may be more prone to other damages as well


Broken and Damaged Kernels

Broken and damaged grain will not produce malt and may cause mold growth and other problems in the malting process.


Immature Grains

Immature grains may impact malt quality and germination.


Foreign Seeds

Seeds other than barley.


Inert Matter

Matter other than seeds.

Why Is Malting Barley Quality Control Crucial for Breweries?

Malting and brewing have become increasingly more sophisticated, being the second largest usages for barley.
Nowadays, barley is both processed and analysed with advanced technologies, such as spectral imaging. These can automate, expedite, and standardize all operations, so to make them more reliable and safer.

For a malt producer barley quality is of paramount importance. A mold infection will potentially destroy the malt and may be catastrophic for the breweries, that are the malt customers. To secure the quality of the finished malt and its further use for brewing it is important to analyse the incoming barely in order to assure the quality of the malt.

The VideometerLab instrument inspects an incoming barley sample for a number of the most important quality parameters. This is done fast, accurately, non-destructively, and simultaniously. It is also cost-efficient since is does not need time-consuming sample preparation or chemicals.

Validation of the
Fusarium Test Results

The VideometerLab is calibrated based on various cultivars from all over the world. The calibration has been validated by the Carlsberg Research Center.
For more information see the paper here.

Here you can see a comparison between the VideometerLab measurements and the level of Fusarium DNA quantified by Real-time PCR, giving an excellent correlation with Fusarium DNA level (R2=0.85).

Malting Process Optimization

For a malt producer it is important to accurately control and progress the different stages of the malting process. In order to do this then a number of important parameters can be measured along the malting process line. The parameters are:



In the steeping process we want to obtain the right amount of hydration of the grain. As sample preparation you cut the kernels lengthwise and place them in a 90 mm petri dish with cross-section facing upwards. Use a black background. The hydration is the amount or fraction of non-hydrated versus hydrated starch in the grain. Non-hydrated starch is automatically detected by spectral analysis and quantified into an area fraction.



Barley seeds are scanned in the VideometerLab to find possible FusariumIn order to study and quantify the early emergence (chitting) of rootlets/radicle the grains are placed in a 90 mm petri dish and the measument is activated. The number weighted percentage of chitted grains is automatically calculated. This number makes it easy to follow the germination process and decide to add more water or to change the temperature.



Without any other sample preparation you place the germinated seeds in a 90 mm petri dish and measure. The instrument will automatically separate rootlets from seed using spectral analysis and then calculate the area fraction of rootlets in relation to the full area of germinated grain. Rootlet quantification makes it easy to follow the germination process and decide to add more water or to change the temperature.


Acrospire Lengths

Acrospire length distribution is measured after a sample preparation: Boil the germinated malt 10 minutes and leave the kernels in the water for a ½ hour. Then place kernels in the presentation plate – with the dorsal side up. Finally insert the plate into the VideometerLab and measure. The analysis will automatically optimize the contrast of the acrospire through spectral analysis, align the kernels, and measure the length of each grain. Average acrospire length as well as distribution will be calculated in order to know when to stop the malting process.

All four malting process analyses are performed by the same VideometerLab instrument, and the automated recipes are illustrated in the images above. All recipes may be adjusted for other grain types like wheat.