Crop of the Week: Barley
• In the Yuma area, barley is grown on roughly 500 acres as a source of animal feed and used in making beer. It is currently being harvested on the mesa. It is a relatively fast-growing grain crop, averaging about 50 days from seed to harvest.
• About half of the barley production in the U.S. is used as an animal feed, especially in northern climates. It is the principal feed grain in Canada, Europe and the northern United States.
• Barleys are annual grasses that have been domesticated for over 1,000 years. About 60 percent of barley grown in the U.S. is used in malt production for the domestic beer market.
• Distilled from green beer, whisky has been made from barley in Ireland and Scotland, while other countries have utilized more diverse sources of alcohol such as the more common corn, rye and molasses in the U.S. The grain name may be applied to the alcohol if it constitutes 51 percent or more of the ingredients.
• Barley contains all eight essential amino acids. According to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption compared with white or even whole-grain wheat. Barley can also be used as a coffee substitute.
• Hulled barley (or covered barley) is eaten after removing the inedible, fibrous outer hull. Once removed, it is called dehulled barley (or pot barley or scotch barley). Considered a whole grain, dehulled barley still has its bran and germ, making it a nutritious and popular health food. Pearl barley (or pearled barley) is dehulled barley that has been steam-processed further to remove the bran. Dehulled or pearl barley may be processed into a variety of barley products, including flour, flakes similar to oatmeal, and grits.
• Barley-meal, a whole meal barley flour that is lighter than wheat meal but darker in color, is used in porridge and gruel in Scotland. Barley-meal gruel is known as sawiq in the Arab world. With a long history of cultivation in the Middle East, barley is used in a wide range of traditional Arabic, Kurdish, Persian and Turkish foodstuffs, including kashk and murri. Barley soup is traditionally eaten during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. It is also used in soups and stews in Eastern Europe. In Africa, where it is a traditional food plant, it has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable agriculture.
• Barley grains were used for measurement in England: three or four barley kernels to the inch and four or five poppy seeds to the barley kernel. The statute definition of an inch was three barley kernels, although by the 19th century this had been superseded by standard inch measures. This unit still persists in some shoe sizes in Britain.
Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-3904.