Barley is an important cereal grain that has a number of uses. It is commonly used as an animal feed, in certain beverages (especially beer), as a grain for bread and other culinary uses, and as malt. Barley is a member of the grass family and is similar in appearance to wheat. The edible portion is actually the seed of the plant and this is processed and refined for its many uses. Barley is the fourth largest cereal crop produced in the world and is grown in over 100 countries in the world. Let’s find out where barley comes from and where it is grown today.
Where does barley originate from?
The wild ancestor of barley can be found throughout northeast Africa and Western Asia (through to tibet). The first evidence of wild barley dates back to 8500 B.C. from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, but it certainly existed long before this time. It was first domesticated in an area known as the Fertile Crescent, which is an area from Western Asia to the Nile river. This domestication probably occurred sometime between 8500 and 6000 B.C., but some experts believe that it could have occurred even earlier than this time. Later, it was also independently domesticated in Tibet. Barley spread from the Fertile Crescent into Europe and Asia where it became one of the most important grains for both food and religious reasons.
Where is barley grown today?
The worldwide production of barley sits at about 135 million metric tons. The largest producers of barley include: Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Canada, Australia and Turkey. It is grown on every continent on Earth (apart from Antarctica) and thrives in many different environments because it is highly adaptable. It can be grown in both tropical and temperate areas (although it has to be grown at different times of the year).