Is an annual grass with a sweet taste, flexible and long spikes, which admits sowing both in autumn and spring. It is native to western Asia and northeastern Africa. It is the fourth most important cereal in the world, together with wheat, corn and rice. It adapts to less fertile soils, different altitudes and humidity conditions, so it is cultivated almost everywhere in the world, except in tropical, semi-tropical and humid areas. Today the world’s largest producers are Russia and Canada.
- Botanical family: Gramineae or Poaceae.
- Crop cycle: Depending on the variety, it can be a short-cycle crop (around 90 days) or a long-cycle crop (exceeding 160 days).
- Climate: Prefers temperate climates, although it can grow in a wide variety of climatic conditions.
- Soil: Thrives in well-drained, fertile soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
- Propagation: Through seeds, usually sown in lines or aerially.
- Irrigation: Barley is relatively drought-tolerant, although it benefits from regular irrigation, especially in the early stages of development.
- Two-row barley: The oldest variety and less cultivated today.
- Six-row barley: Commonly used for animal feed and beer production.
- Pearled barley: This is barley that has been processed to remove the bran, and therefore is quicker to cook.
- Carbohydrates: Rich source of starches.
- Proteins: Provides essential proteins, although in smaller quantities than other grains such as wheat.
- Fiber: Rich in dietary fiber, which aids digestion.
- Vitamins: Source of B group vitamins.
- Minerals: Provides essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
- Antioxidants: Contains a good amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
- Human consumption: In the form of breakfast cereals, flours, and whole grains for soups and stews.
- Animal feed: Commonly used as fodder and concentrated feed for animals.
- Brewing industry: Main ingredient for beer production.
- Whisky industry: Used in the manufacture of certain whiskies.
- Cosmetics and skincare products: Used in the form of barley extract.
Places Where It Is Grown
- Europe: Mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain.
- North America: Large production in Canada and in US states like Idaho and Montana.
- Asia: Countries such as Russia and China are major barley producers.
- Australia: Also has significant production in this country.
- Digestive: The fiber present in barley helps regulate the digestive system, preventing constipation.
- Cholesterol control: Can help reduce blood cholesterol levels due to its soluble fiber content.
- Anti-inflammatory: Antioxidant compounds can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Diabetes control: Its glycemic index is lower than other grains, which can help control blood sugar levels.
- Skin care: Barley extracts can have beneficial properties for the skin, helping to hydrate and nourish it.