Barley is an ancient grain–the first domesticated grain to be grown by humans. It is also a versatile grain that can have many uses (including feed, malt and food).
While barley is grown throughout Canada, Alberta produces the most barley of all the provinces. Alberta farmers produce approximately half of Canada’s annual barley production.
With nearly three million acres expected to be grown in Alberta by more than 11,000 farmers this year, barley is a versatile crop with a number of uses. Farmers plant barley not only as a rotational crop to ensure they are able to maintain healthy, sustainable soil, but also because of its end-use markets.
Alberta’s warm days and cool evenings, paired with our rich soil, make this the perfect region to grow high quality barley. The length of the barley growing season from seeding to harvest varies based on the location, season and date of seeding, but like most crops in Alberta, barley is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Most of Alberta’s barley is grown on dryland, although according to the Alberta Government, barley needs about 250-300 mm of water on dryland and about 390 mm of water on irrigated land in order to produce a healthy, high yielding crop.
Barley has three primary end-uses – feed, malt, and food. Known for its nutritional value and competitive price point, feed barley is a common ingredient in cattle and pig feed. Therefore, feed
barley is an important contribution to our famous Alberta beef!
Recognized globally for its high quality, Alberta’s malting barley is used as a premium ingredient in beer and distilled beverages. Alberta’s barley farmers produce close to two million tonnes of malting barley for use in production of some of the finest whiskey’s, gins, vodkas and beers in Alberta, North America and around the globe.
With tremendous health benefits, barley is also a homegrown superfood. It is high in fibre and according to Health Canada, it is proven to lower cholesterol.
Source: Alberta Barley Commission – www.albertabarley.com