Learn About Growing 6-Row Barley Plants

Barley is a popular crop both commercially and in home
gardens. While the plants are grown for their grain harvest, barley is also
commonly grown on farms for livestock or as
a cover crop. Whether wishing to make their farm more sustainable or
hoping to grow barley for its use in beer making, there is no doubt that its
growers have mixed opinions regarding how different types of the plant should
be used. One type, 6-row barley plants, are specifically debated for their use.

What is 6-Row Barley?

Growing 6-row barley has many uses. While European beer
makers believe this specific type of barley should only be grown as feed for
livestock, many North American brewers welcome the use of 6-row barley for beer.

These 6-row barley plants are easily distinguishable due to
the size and shape of their seed heads. Seedheads of 6-row barley plants
maintain a somewhat unorganized appearance with varying sized kernels. These
varying kernels make the process of grinding the barely more difficult, as the
smallest seeds must be screened and sifted. Even the largest of the 6-row
barley kernels will be smaller than that which is produced by 2-row barley

Should I Grow 6-Row Barley?

While much more common in North America, there are some
advantages to growing 6-row barley for beer. Although the kernels are smaller,
6-row barley types contain a greater number of enzymes which are able to
convert sugars throughout malting in the beer making process. This makes 6-row
barley very helpful for use in beer recipes that incorporate the use of other
grains which are not able to convert sugars.

Growing 6-Row Barley Plants

As with growing any other small grain crop, the process of
growing 6-row barley is relatively simple. In fact, even home gardeners should
be able to achieve crops with yields large enough for personal use.

First, growers will need to select varieties that are well
suited to their gardening zone. While barley does demonstrate some tolerance to cold, it is
important to carefully determine the best planting time for the garden. This
will help to better ensure a successful harvest.

To sow, choose a planting location that is well draining and
receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Broadcast the seeds
onto the planting area and rake the seeds into the upper surface layer of the
soil. Then, water the area well, making sure that the planting bed receives
adequate moisture until germination occurs.

Some growers may need to spread a thin layer of straw or
mulch over the planting area in order to ensure that the seeds are not eaten by
birds or garden pests before germination occur.

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