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Related to Hordeum: Hordeum vulgare


A genus of the order Cyperales containing all species of barley.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(barley), a genus of annual and perennial grasses of the family Gramineae. The basic mass of the filamentous root system develops in the plowing layer, although some roots penetrate to a depth of 1 m. The hollow stem is 30 to 135 cm tall. The leaf is broader than that of other Gramineae. The inflorescence is a spike. The yellow, gray, or brown fruit is a glumaceous or naked caryopsis.

There are about 30 species (according to other data, as many as 50), distributed in Eurasia and the Americas. The USSR has more than ten species, growing in the European section, Western and Eastern Siberia, and the Far East. There are three cultivated species: H. vulgare (common barley), which is found on all continents; H. aethiopicum, which occurs in Egypt and neighboring countries; and H. humile, which grows in China and Japan. The three species are sometimes classified in the collective species H. sativum.

According to biological characteristics, a distinction is made between spring and winter barley. The vegetative period of spring barley lasts 55 to 110 days, depending on varietal characteristics and the region of cultivation. Barley is the most rapidly maturing grain crop. It is a self-pollinator, and flowering is enclosed. Shoots appear at a temperature of 4°-5°C, and young plants are resistant to frost. The optimum temperature for growth and development is 15°-22°C. Compared to rye and wheat, winter barley is less winter-hardy but more resistant to drought and heat. Barley grows well on fertile loamy soil with a neutral pH.

Barley seeds contain 13 percent water, 12 percent protein, 64.6 percent carbohydrates, 5.5 percent cellular tissue, 2.1 percent fat, and 2.8 percent ash elements. The protein of barley is more valuable than that of wheat in terms of amino acid composition, especially lysine content. The grain is used to prepare groats, coffee substitutes, and meal (which is added to wheat meal in the baking of bread). Barley is a valuable concentrated feed, used mainly in hog and poultry farming. There are 121 feed units and 79 kg of digestible protein in 100 kg of grain. A large barley consumer is the beer industry (seeBEER). Malt extracts from barley grain are used in the textile, confectionery, and pharmaceutical industries.

In 1977 worldwide plantings of barley occupied 92.4 million hectares (ha), including 34.5 million in the USSR, 14 million in the People’s Republic of China, 4.5 million in Canada, 3.9 million in the USA, 3 million in India, 2.8 million in Australia, 2.8 million in France, 2.8 million in Turkey, and 2.3 million in Great Britain. The average productivity of grain is 20 quintals per ha. (The highest productivity—45.8 quintals per ha—has been achieved in Belgium.) The gross grain yield is 184.9 million tons. In the USSR in 1977 the average grain productivity of spring barley was 15 quintals per ha; the corresponding figure for winter barley was 20.5 quintals per ha (at leading farms, 65 quintals per ha). The gross grain yield was 52.7 million tons.

Spring barley is cultivated in all farming areas of the USSR from the polar region to the subtropics; there are plantings at elevations to 3,500 m above sea level in the mountains. Winter barley is cultivated primarily in Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, the Crimea, the Northern Caucasus, the Southern Ukraine, and Moldavia. Eighty-six varieties of spring barley have been regionalized (beer varieties include Viner and Moskovskii-121; forage varieties include Donetskii-4 and Nutans-187). Thirty-four winter varieties have also been regionalized (Pallidum-596, Odesskii-46).

Barley is a field crop. Its best predecessors in crop rotation are row crops (sugar beets, corn, and potatoes) and pulse crops. Barley responds to fertilizer better than other crops. Crop cultivation includes soil compaction (to secure uniform shoots) and light harrowing. Barley is harvested when fully ripe for use as food and at the beginning of waxy ripeness for use as forage.


Bakhteev, F. Kh. lachmen’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Bakhteev, F. Kh. Sistematika vozdelyvaemykh iachmenei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Kodanev, I. M. lachmen’. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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It is derived from the grass called Hordeum vulgare.