Barley was one of the first cereals cultivated by man. It is one of the eight neolithic founder crops, which were plant species that were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent region by early farming communities.
Barley is still a very important cereal crop. Worldwide, it is the fourth important cereal crop (after maize, rice and wheat. In 2010 the estimated world production was 123,477,192 Metric Tons (source FAOSTAT), which corresponds to about 18 kg per person (in 2010 the world had about 6.9 billion persons).
Barley is often used as an animal feed or to produce malt, which is an important ingredient for beer and whisky. It is also used in health foods and to make barley bread.
Countries that produce a lot of Barley include Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Canada, Australia, Turkey, UK and USA.
Basic information and facts
Barley was first cultivated in the Near East, in the area of the Tigris-Euphrates river system.
Grows in temperate regions. Countries with the highest production include Russia, Canada, Spain, Germany, France and Turkey. It is also grown in Australia, United Kingdom, United States, and Ethiopia.
Barley is a domesticated plant belonging to the grasses family. It usually produces one to six tillers (stems) per plant.
Barley has erect or nearly erect spikes that are 2 to 10 cm long, excluding the awns. Awns are straight and 10 to 15 centimeters long.
Climate and weather:
Prefers dry cool climates. It will not grow well in warm humid climate.
It is a self-pollinating plant.
Plants are, depending on variety and soil health, between 60 and 120 centimeter tall.
Type of soil:
Grows well on well-drained fertile loams or on light clay soils.
Prefers pH of 6.0 or higher. It does not grow well on acid soils.
Can tolerate moderate drought conditions.
Propagated by seed.
Nowadays usually harvested with a combine harvester, which is a machine that harvests grain crops combining reaping and threshing in a single operation.
The main use of barley is to make malt, which is an ingredient to make beer. Malt is prepared by making the grains germinate by soaking them in water and then drying them with hot air to stop further germination.
Barley is also used as a fodder crop or to make barley bread.
Proverbs and Quotes
- It is safe to lend barley to him who has oats.
- Who sows barley cannot reap wheat.
- In the age of acorns, before the times of Ceres, a single barley-corn had been of more value to mankind than all the diamonds of the mines of India. (Henry Brooke)
- And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. (Bible. Exodus 9:31.)
Did you know that?
- Since the early 14th century, shoe sizes are based on the length of barleycorns. This was a decision by King Edward II. Three barleycorns is one inch. The king had shoe size of 36 barleycorns, which is 12 inch (size 12).
- As there are three barley corns in an inch, so one barleycorn is 8.46 millimeters.
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