IFO couldn’t post yesterday b/c she was gone all day on a visit to her local land-grant university to learn almost all there is to know about barley – from ground to dinner table or barn. This is the wonderful ag tradition of going on a field day. Groups tour fields, either farmers testing new seeds or research facility fields, getting the latest developments in their particular crop.
Yesterday’s tour was about barley. Like so many of our grains, barley types range from livestock feed, to beer ingredient (malted barley) to food item (pearled barley.) But it doesn’t stop there. Researchers are crossing and selecting and creating new breeds that will fit our local climate while carrying desireable charactistics for growing and using.
For example, if plants get too tall before their grains are ripe, they are in danger of falling over at the slightest breeze or rainfall or hail. If they don’t have resistant genes to various weakening conditions like the dread Scald, in which leaves get all yellow, white and weird rather than lush green, they won’t produce grain at desired yields.
Yield, for the uninitiated, is the number of bushels, pounds, tons or other measure, per acre.
It was a big group on the tour. Suppliers, growers, academics and others trailed researchers, from professors to grad students to post-docs, as they described hundreds of different varieties being tested. Only a treasured few varieties will make it through all the screens to production agriculture.
In the afternoon, we headed over to the greenhouses and baking facility for more learning. More on that in our next post.