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Barley belongs to the kingdom of plants to the family of Poaceae. Barley, biologically called Hordeum Vulgare, is a cereal grain which grows best in a moderate climate. Cultivation of Barley started nearly twelve thousand years ago , around the same time wheat started being popular. Various food both for human as well as animal consumption can be prepared from Barley. Barley plants can pollinate on their own and contains fourteen chromosomes. Barley plant has a life cycle of one year. It takes around two months for the barley plants to mature. The cultivated Barley leaves contains grains in a pattern of two or six rows. Two row barley leaves are used to make beer or malt drinks as it has lesser protein content. Six grain Barley leaves have high protein content and are used as fodder for animals. Barley has been developed into a new hull less variety which is used for a more nutritious diet for consumers. Azure, Beacon, Bere, Betus, Bowman are certain forms of barley cultivars which are cultivated in different parts of the world. From Asia and Africa cultivation of Barley spread to the other parts of the world like Russia, France, Germany, Ukraine, Canada and Spain.
Sandy soil, heavy loam soil and light soil are good to grow barley. Neutral soils or slightly alkaline soils are best suited to plant barley. Fertilizers and manure are added to increase soil fertility for Barley crop but barley can grow in medium fertile soils as well. The temperatures required to grow barley can be from cool to moderate. Barley is a drought resistant crop and needs only moderate water for growth which make it a versatile crop for cultivation. Consumption of every hundred grams of barley yield three hundred and fifty calories of energy. Barley is rich in nutrients, vitamins, dietary fibers and other essential nutrients required by the body. Barley has a very high carbohydrate content. Insects and pests like aphids can destroy the barley plantations. Aphids inhibit and stunt growth in barley plants and damage the leaves of barley plants which develop molds due to the insect. Water and insecticides are used to rid the barley plants of aphids. Army-worms eat leaves of the barley plant and their larvae multiply quickly and damage the crop. Biological treatments are preferred to weed out army-worms. Fungus can destroy the roots of the barley plantations and so plantation is done carefully in the right season. Fungus like downy mildew and clavicles purpurae can destroy plants, stems, kernels and flowers of the crop. Crop rotation along with disease free, fresh seeds and good soil management is required to prevent any fungal diseases and increase yield of the barley crop.
Uses and Benefits
Barley is grounded into flour which is used to make wafer thin cakes for breakfast and other food products. Barley is used in porridge which is a popular meal in Scotland and Arabian countries. Barley is used in stew in Arab countries. In Europe stews and soups are made using boiled barley. Barley is used extensively in Africa as it improves food security for populations and provides a lot of nutrition for consumers. Breads and biscuits are made using barley. Barley is very healthy for human and animal consumption. Barley helps in regulating and preventing diabetes and heart conditions. Sodium, potassium and calcium present in barley helps lowering blood pressure. Iron and calcium present in barley help to improve and maintain bone health. Barley is high in vitamin B six content which helps in decreasing cholesterol in bold which lowers risk of heart attacks and heart related diseases. Barley contains fibers and selenium which is good for liver and prevents cancer by freeing body of many toxic compounds. Barley contains choline which is good for normal body functions like cognition, sleep and nervous system. Congestion of stomach and intestines can be managed by consuming barley. People suffering from celiac disease are not recommend to take barley as it contains gluten. Preparing malt, whiskey and beer using barley is economically viable and many producers research better quality standards for barley malt drinks. Many researchers are looking into alternative uses for barley like preparation of bio fuels and effects on algae in water bodies. Besides malted drinks, Barley Water is also a popular drink in many countries in the world. Roasted barley tea is a popular drink along with barley coffee. Barley was used for measurements in many European countries. Barley is used as food for fishes like trout and salmon and extending barley’s use as food for other fish varieties is being studied. Barley plant is used for decoration as well and it is a very popular cereal grain besides rice and wheat.