Barley
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Barley, common name for any of a genus of cereal grasses, native to north temperate regions, and one of the most ancient of cultivated plants. It is now the fourth-largest grain crop, after wheat, rice, and maize. In the greater part of Europe, the United States, and Canada barley is sown in the spring. Along the Mediterranean Sea and in parts of California and Arizona, it is sown in autumn. It is also grown as a winter-sown annual crop in many areas. Drought-resistant and hardy, barley can be grown on marginal cropland; salt-resistant strains are being developed to increase its usefulness in coastal regions. Barley germinates at about the same temperature as wheat. The different cultivated varieties of barley belong to three distinct types: two-rowed barley, six-rowed barley, and irregular barley. The varieties grown in Europe are generally the two-rowed type; in the United States the six-rowed type predominates and the irregular type is found in Ethiopia. The finest malting varieties are the six-rowed and the two-rowed types.

Barley grain, hay, straw, and several by-products are used for feed. The grain is used for malt beverages  and in cooking. Like other cereals, barley contains a large proportion of carbohydrate (67 per cent) and protein (12.8 per cent). Barley is of no importance as a raw material for industrial starch.

Annual world production of barley in the mid-1990s stood at about 160 million tonnes, almost 4.5 per cent more than in 1980. By far the leading producer was Russia, followed by Ukraine, Canada, Germany, and the United States. Australia is also an important producer of barley.

Scientific classification: Barley belongs to the genus Hordeum, of the family Poaceae (or Gramineae). Two-rowed barley is classified as Hordeum distichon, six-rowed barley as Hordeum vulgare, and irregular barley as Hordeum irregulare.