The cultivation of barley

The protagonist of our entry today is, as we do not usually see it, a monocotyledon. It is barley ( Hordeum vulgare)  and it is present in our food chain and in one of the most historic drinks that form apart from the history of man, beer. Not only that, but it also has medicinal properties. Today, at Gardenprue, we put aside the rest of the plants and talk about barley.



The reality cannot be denied, it is the 5th most cultivated cereal on the planet with 53 million hectares. Its origins date back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian and it is believed that it had its origin from wild barley, which grew in the Middle East.

They can practically be divided into 2 types of barley, the 2-stroke and the 6-stroke, and each has different uses. For example, the 2-run, also known as tremesina is best used for brewing industries.

Like many other cereals,  Hordeum vulgare belongs to the grass family , also known as Poaceae,  a group with more than 820 genera and more than 12,000 described species.

And now, once we are introduced to the matter, it is time to comment on the agronomic characteristics of its cultivation.


Few, few, really. It is such a widespread cultivation that it is practically adapted to any environment. From 5-6 ºC it is already capable of starting its germination, and once it has grown, it needs between 15 and 20 ºC to flower and mature. And the frosts?  Well, nothing happens either, since given the physiological characteristics of barley, it  supports temperatures of up to 10 ° C below zero.


Limestone soils do well for barley, with good amounts of lime and a medium content between sand and clay. The looser the ground, the better conditions the barley will develop, since in very compact soils, the germination of this grass becomes difficult. The soil is usually given a shallow plow, since it does not require much turning of the soil in depth because its roots are not very powerful. In short, basic, light, loose and dry soils.


To know the fertilizer dose, it is simply enough to know the mineral amounts extracted from the soil. With this, when replacing them, we are returning to the initial state of the land, and as long as there are no deficiencies, it will be enough to cultivate again. Those amounts for 1 hectare are the following:

It must be taken into account that in the cultivation of barley, there is a time when it needs the greatest need for fertilizer, and it is in the stage that elapses between hardening and flowering. Beware overdo the nitrogen because too much can cause the bedding  of the grass. Bedding, in case someone doesn’t know, is the tendency of a crop to lean towards the ground.

On the other hand, some ecological authors recommend incorporating 45-50 kg of compost or animal manure into the soil per hectare and it is usually done at the time the land is tilled, so that it mixes well with the soil.


One of the peculiarities of growing barley is that it needs more water at the beginning than at the end. It also has a lower evapotranspiration coefficient than wheat, so less water is needed in each crop cycle. It must also be said, since we have previously mentioned that excess nitrogen favors lodging, it is that excess water also. It is a paradox as something that is supposed to increase the development and vigor of the crop, causes the grasses to lean towards the ground and acquire a creeping bearing. Yet it is so. In addition, as we have said before, soils with excess humidity do not favor barley. Better drought than flood, so to speak.


Although many of you may not know it, barley also has some medicinal properties, such as the ones we are going to mention below:

  • Digestive properties
  • Antispasmodic properties
  • Anti-fever properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

As it is fiber, its continued consumption combats constipation and helps reduce the accumulation of fluids in the body.

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