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Facts on Barley
vulgare) is a major food and animal feed crop, a member
of the grass family Poaceae. In 2004 barley ranked
fourth in area of cultivation of cereal crops in the
world (570,000 km?) FAOSTAT. Its germination time is
anywhere from 1-3 days.
barley is descended from wild barley (Hordeum
spontaneum), which still grows wild in the Middle East.
Both forms are diploid (2n=14 chromosomes). As wild
barley is interfertile with domesticated barley, the two
forms are often treated as one species, divided into
Hordeum vulgare subsp. spontaneum and H. vulgare subsp.
vulgare. The major difference between wild and
domesticated barley is the brittle rachis of the former,
which is conducive to seed dispersal in the wild. The
earliest finds of wild barley come from Epi-Paleolithic
sites in the Levant, beginning in the Natufian. The
first domesticated barley has been found in the Aceramic
Neolithic layers (PPN B) of Tell Abu Hureyra in Syria.
It was one of the first crops domesticated in the Near
East. Barley's domestication seems to be contemporaneous
to that of wheat.
Barley was the staple of ancient
Egypt, where it was used to make bread and beer;
together, these were a complete diet. The general name
for barley is jt (hypothetically pronounced "eat"); sma
(hypothetically pronounced "SHE-ma") refers to Upper
Egyptian barley and is a symbol of Upper
Ritual significance of barley possibly dates
back to the earliest stages of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
The preparatory kykeon or mixed drink of the initiates,
prepared from barley and herbs, was referred to in the
Homeric hymn to Demeter, who was also called
Greek practice was to dry the barley
groats and roast them before preparing the porridge,
according to Pliny the Elder's Natural History
(xviii.72). This produces a malt that soon ferments and
becomes slightly alcoholic.
Tibetan barley has been
the only major staple food in Tibet for
Palaeoethnobotanists have found that
barley has been grown in the Korean Peninsula since the
Early Mumun Pottery Period (c. 1500-850 B.C.) along with
other crops such as millet, wheat, and
Barley can be divided by
the number of kernel rows in the head. Three forms have
been cultivated; two-row barley (traditionally known as
Hordeum distichum), four-row (Hordeum tetrastichum) and
six-row barley (Hordeum vulgare). In two-row barley only
one spikelet is fertile, in the four-row and six-row
forms, all three are fertile.
Two-row barley is the
oldest form, wild barley having two rows as well.
Two-row barley has a lower protein content than six-row
barley but a higher enzyme content. High protein barley
is best suited for animal feed or malt that has a large
adjunct content. Two-row barley is best suited for pure
There are naked and hulled barleys, the hulled
barleys being the older forms.
Barley is widely
adaptable and is currently a major crop of the temperate
and tropical areas.
world production of barley according to FAOSTAT was as
- Russian Federation 17,179,740
- Canada 13,186,400 tons
- Ukraine 11,068,800 tons
- France 11,040,214 tons
- Spain 10,608,700 tons
- Turkey 9,000,000 tons
- USA 6,080,020 tons
The total world production for 2004
was 153,624,393 tons. The world production in 1974 was
148,818,870 tons, an increase of a mere
The average yield in 2004 was
268.04 tons per square kilometer, while in 1974 was
195.25 t/km?, an improvement of 37%. The production
in 2004 was as follows:
- France 677.32 t/km?
- UK 582.51 t/km?
- Germany 581.08 t/km?
- Spain 334.62 t/km?
- Turkey 257.14 t/km?
- Australia 179.83 t/km?
- Russian Federation 179.66 t/km?
barley, and some products made from them.Barley is a
staple food for humans and other animals. It is more
tolerant of soil salinity than wheat, which might
explain the increase of barley cultivation on
Mesopotamia from the 2nd millennium BC onwards. Barley
can still thrive in conditions that are too cold even
for rye. Malting barley is a key ingredient in
beer and whiskey production.
The 1881 Household
Cyclopedia adds: Next to wheat the most valuable
grain is barley, especially on light and sharp soils. It
is a tender grain and easily hurt in any of the stages
of its growth, particularly at seed time; a heavy shower
of rain will then almost ruin a crop on the best
prepared land; and in all the after processes greater
pains and attention are required to ensure success than
in the case of other grains. The harvest process is
difficult, and often attended with danger; even the
threshing of it is not easily executed with machines,
because the awn generally adheres to the grain, and
renders separation from the straw a troublesome task.
Barley, in fact, is raised at greater expense than
wheat, and generally speaking is a more hazardous crop.
Except upon rich and genial soils, where climate will
allow wheat to be perfectly reared, it ought not to be
Preparation of ground
chiefly taken after turnips, sometimes after peas and
beans, but rarely by good farmers either after wheat or
oats, unless under special circumstances. When sown
after turnips it is generally taken with one furrow,
which is given as fast as the turnips are consumed, the
ground thus receiving much benefit from the spring
frosts. But often two, or more furrows are necessary for
the fields last consumed, because when a spring drought
sets in, the surface, from being poached by the removal
or consumption of the crop, gets so hardened as to
render a greater quantity of plowing, harrowing and
rolling necessary than would otherwise be called for.
When sown after beans and peas, one winter and one
spring plowing are usually bestowed: but when after
wheat or oats, three plowings are necessary, so that
the ground may be put in proper condition. These
operations are very ticklish in a wet and backward
season, and rarely in that case is the grower paid for
the expense of his labor. Where land is in such a
situation as to require three plowings before it can
be seeded with barley, it is better to summer-fallow it
at once than to run the risks which seldom fail to
accompany a quantity of spring labor. If the weather be
dry, moisture is lost during the different processes,
and an imperfect braird necessarily follows; if it be
wet the benefit of plowing is lost, and all the evils
of a wet seed time are sustained by the future
The quantity sown is different in different
cases, according to the quality of the soil and other
circumstances. Upon very rich lands eight pecks per acre
are sometimes sown; twelve is very common, and upon poor
land more is sometimes given.
By good judges a
quantity of seed is sown sufficient to ensure a full
crop, without depending on its sending out offsets;
indeed, where that is done few offsets are produced, the
crop grows and ripens equally, and the grain is
uniformly good. The small bristles on the top of the
barley are called 'awn'
Barley water is often used as
a base for cordials in the UK. Roasted barley is also
made into a hot drink in some parts of the world. In
Italy, for instance, a "caffe d'orzo" is an espresso
style drink made from ground roasted barley. When
prepared from the roasted barley directly, it can be
made in many standard espresso or coffee makers.
Although traditionally considered a coffee substitute
for children, it is an increasingly common choice in
Italy and other places for those who choose to eschew
coffee for health reasons. In the United States, instant
roasted barley drinks are sold under the name of
"Postum", "Pero", and others, including varieties of
"cafe de cebada" in Latin American markets.
countries across Asia, the Chinese believe that drinking
a concoction of barley and rock sugar is generally
useful for relieving "heatiness" in the body. A cupful
of barley boiled with 20 cups of water together with
screwpine (pandan) leaves gives a delicious and
"cooling" drink. In Japan, barley tea is called mugicha,
and in Korea it is called bori