Barley





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

shattering.





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