Barley By: Scarlet and Crystal

What is it?

Barley is a short-season, early maturing crop. It is the third largest grain crop produced in the United States after corn and sorghum.


  • One of the earliest cultivated grains
  • Grown in the Middle East before 8,000 B.C.
  • Then grown on the Korean Peninsula along with millet, wheat and legumes (1500-850 B.C.)


Barley is classified by how many rows of grains on the head (2, 4, or 6).

Another way to classify Barley is to describe the beards (awns) covering the kernel.

  1. Long awned
  2. Short awned
  3. (Normal) hooded
  4. Elevated hooded,
  5. Subjacent hooded
  6. Long awned in central row, and awnletted or awnless in lateral rows
  7. Short awned in central row, and awnletted or awnless in lateral rows
  8. Awnless or awnletted in central and lateral rows
  9. Elevated hoods in central row, and awnless in lateral rows

Barley can also be described by:

  1. hulled or hulless (naked)
  2. feed or malt type
  3. height (dwarf)
  4. seed color (colorless, white, yellow, blue)


Early planting will generally produce higher yields, larger grain size and lower protein levels. Since Barley has a lower frost tolerance than wheat, it can be planted earlier in the season. Preferred time April to June. Planting times may vary depending on your geographical location and seasonal conditions. For example, in the cooler areas of southern Queensland, Australia planting can stretch into July.

Grain farm in Queensland, Australia

When is the right time?

  • Early planting may increase the risk of frost, yet has the highest yield potential and is more likely to make malt (best) quality.
  • Later maturing and shorter stature varieties are preferred for early planting to avoid tall lush early growth.
  • A frost of -4°C at head height during flowering can cause between 5-30% yield loss.
  • A frost of -5°C or lower at head height can cause 100% yield loss.
  • Hot, dry temperatures during spring can reduce grain fill period and affect yield and grain size.
  • Later planting and later flowering generally results in declining yield potential due to higher temperatures and moisture stress during flowering.


Barley is generally harvested from October to late November. It is mature between 30-50% moisture. Barley is harvested the same as wheat: cut, bundled and shocked to dry. It is not necessary to thresh when feeding to stock.


  • Medicine: Barley lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. It also helps with diarrhea, stomach pain, and inflammatory bowel conditions. Barley is also used for promoting weight loss.
  • Animal feed: Barley is a good source of protein for livestock feed. It can be rolled, ground, flaked, or pelleted. Barley is also used for pasture, green feed, hay and bedding.
  • Human consumption: Barley also has sufficient protein for humans. Most barley used for food is either pearled barley or barley flour.
  • Malting: Malting can be described as "controlled sprouting," frequently used for animal feed and human nutrition.


  • Coffee substitutes.
  • Beer (also could be made from wheat)
  • Whisky
  • Mugicha (Japanese and Korean drink)
  • Soups and stews
  • Fructan (a sweetener made from Barley)
  • Health foods
Mugicha (right)

works cited



Created with images by enneafive - "Ripening" • jonathansautter - "field landscape sunset" • music4life - "cereals grain cereal" • my little red suitcase - "Calves!" • stevepb - "craft beer ale brewery" • Artturi_Mantysaari - "beer tipple drink"

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