Barley is one of the oldest crops known to man. The old historian Pliny
says that barley was the first food of mankind. Modern man however
prefers wheat and corn and potatoes to barley, and as a food this
ancient crop is in America turned over to the lower animals. Brewers use
barley extensively in making malt liquors. Barley grows in nearly all
sections of our country, but a few states--namely, Minnesota,
California, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota--are seeding
large areas to this crop.
For malting purposes the barley raised on rather light, friable, porous
soil is best. Soils of this kind are likely to produce a medium yield of
bright grain. Fertile loamy and clay soils make generally a heavier
yield of barley, but the grain is dark and fit only to be fed to stock.
Barley is a shallow feeder, and can reach only such plant food as is
found in the top soil, so its food should always be put within reach by
a thorough breaking, harrowing, and mellowing of the soil, and by
fertilizing if the soil is poor. Barley has been successfully raised
both by irrigation and by dry-farming methods. It requires a
better-prepared soil than the other grain crops; it makes fine yields
when it follows some crop that has received a heavy dressing of manure.
Capital yields are produced after alfalfa or after root crops. This crop
usually matures within a hundred days from its seeding.
When the crop is to be sold to the brewers, a grain rich in starch
should be secured. Barley intended for malting should be fertilized to
this end. Many experiments have shown that a fertilizer which contains
much potash will produce starchy barley. If the barley be intended for
stock, you should breed so as to get protein in the grain and in the
stalk. Hence barley which is to be fed should be fertilized with
mixtures containing nitrogen and phosphoric acid. Young barley plants
are more likely to be hurt by cold than either wheat or oats. Hence
barley ought not to be seeded until all danger from frost is over. The
seeds should be covered deeper than the seeds of wheat or of oats. Four
inches is perhaps an average depth for covering. But the covering will
vary with the time of planting, with the kind of ground, with the
climate, and with the nature of the season. Fewer seeds will be needed
if the barley is planted by means of a drill.
Like other cereals, barley should not be grown continuously on the same
land. It should take its place in a well-planned rotation. It may
profitably follow potatoes or other hoed crops, but it should not come
first after wheat, oats, or rye.
Barley should be harvested as soon as most of its kernels have reached
the hard dough state. It is more likely to shatter its grain than are
other cereals, and it should therefore be handled with care. It must
also be watched to prevent its sprouting in the shocks. Be sure to put
few bundles in the shock and to cap the shock securely enough to keep
out dew and rain. If possible the barley should be threshed directly
from the shock, as much handling will occasion a serious loss from
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