Hordeum vulgare L. (Barley)

Crop Type: Open field crop

Breeding system: Predominantly autogamous

Cultivated barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is among the world’s earliest domesticated crop. Barley, as we know it today, derived from its wild progenitor H. vulgare spp. spontaneum (Mayer et al. 2012). Currently it is one of the most cultivated cereals with an annual production of 147 million tons (FAOSTAT 2019). Approximately three quarters of the production is used for animal feeding while 20% is malted to produce alcoholic beverages (in particular beer) and 5% as ingredient in a wide variety of food products (Blake et al. 2011). The species is well adapted to a wide range of environments and it is generally more stress tolerant than its close relative wheat (Bockelman and Valkoun 2011). Indeed, it is cultivated in harsh conditions in many developing countries where is a major staple. Barley grains are characterised by high content in dietary soluble fibre that is important for a correct diet. According to the ear morphology cultivated barley can be classified into two groups: two-row, mainly used to produce malt, and six-row barley mainly used for animal feeding.
Barley is an annual self-pollinating crop; according to the environmental conditions and the variety, the sowing can occur either in autumn or spring.

  • Blake T, Blake V, Bowman J, Abdel-Haleem H (2011) Barley: Production, Improvement and Uses. In: Ullrich SE (ed) Barley: Production, Improvement and Uses. Wiley-Blackwell, pp 522–531
  • Bockelman HE, Valkoun J (2011) Barley: Production, Improvement, and Uses. In: Ullrich SE (ed) Barley: Production, Improvement, and Uses. Wiley-Blackwell, pp 144–159
  • FAOSTAT (2019) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAOSTAT database. 
  • Mayer KFX, Waugh R, Langridge P, et al (2012) A physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome. Nature 491:711–716. doi: 10.1038/nature11543