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Re: Growing Barley

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  • bfogt
    Being someone who s taken a stab at this twice, I can tell you that you re probably in over your head. Let s start with the cost and time issues. Sure, you re
    Message 1 of 47 , Apr 1 4:20 AM
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      Being someone who's taken a stab at this twice, I can tell you that you're probably in over your head.

      Let's start with the cost and time issues. Sure, you're getting a bag cheap. But do you have the right equipment to harvest it? For a 20x40' area, there's not enough to use a combine. That doesn't fill the hopper enough to effectively thresh and winnow, I've been told. It sounds like you need an acre at the very least and having someone combine an acre may cost you quite a bit, comparatively. That means doing it by hand, with a flail, or finding a rentable threshing machine. For the actual cutting you'll need a scythe, and a good one.

      By hand. My experience was a very lonely two weeks of rubbing grain off of the straw. There's a ton of dust and throw away. In two weeks I collected three pounds of grain. I gave up.

      Flail. I started with the flail method. Humankind lived on flailed grains for a long time. I can tell you that it took a while to get the flail technique down. It's just not as easy as it looks. The wiffle bat and driving over a bag filled with straw were as ineffective for me. Some have success, but I don't think they had more than a couple pounds to deal with.

      Threshing Machine. This is the way to go. There are Amish communities who share a gasoline threshing machine. Rumors abound that you should be able to find one available after the wheat harvest. We have a significant Amish population here in the area. Of all the people I know who have suggested finding a threshing machine to take my barley to, no one could help make contact with anyone with access to a machine. I'm hoping to have some more success with this the next time I give barley a chance.

      But if you want to get a scythe, I think that's a noble calling and a perfectly good reason to grow barley. Just make sure to do research before investing. I thought that having my mother-in-law buy me a scythe from Johnny's last summer would be good enough. Turns out that another $60 would have gotten me a scythe kit that I'd feel good about using this year.

      If you can get unmalted barley so cheap, it sounds perfectly reasonable to become your own maltster. At that price, you're not likely to save money on the growing side, even if the books say that you'll be able to grow 70 or 80 pounds from 10 pounds of seed. My experience was 3 pounds from 5 pounds of seed.

      That gets to the master gardener in me. Check with your County Extension. If the grain elevator deals with barley, your extension should have some experience with it. They'll know what kinds of amendments and pesticides you're likely to need and taking a soil test report to them should be helpful. You should also know the variety of barley you are planting. If it's a hybrid, the product of growing it is not going to be very good. It may malt/germinate just fine, but the plant that emerges will be crippled genetically just from being a hybrid. You see the same in any hybrid plant.

      That's what I've got for now. Good luck.
    • bfogt
      I d forgotten about the book that was the best resource for me, The Scythe Book. At the end is a lot of information about small scale grain production and
      Message 47 of 47 , Apr 7 3:27 AM
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        I'd forgotten about the book that was the best resource for me, The Scythe Book. At the end is a lot of information about small scale grain production and processing. When you read it, be aware that the first section is revised by the second section so you feel like you're reading one thing and then reading about the same stuff but with corrections. At least that's how I remember it.

        --- In Grow-Hops@yahoogroups.com, James Altwies <jraltwies@...> wrote:
        >
        > jusst read up on the potential malting issues and potential health hazards like vomitoxins and the like...
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ________________________________
        > From: Jim Sadler <jim.sadler@...>
        > To: Grow-Hops@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Tue, April 6, 2010 8:19:10 PM
        > Subject: Re: [Grow-Hops] Re: Growing Barley
        >
        >  
        > Everyone has had some good advice on this subject.  I honestly think that I'm going to scale back my plans significantly this year.  I think I'm going to plant just enough to see how it grows behind my house, if I end up with enough to brew with great, if I don't I'm not going to be disappointed.
        >
        >
        > On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 5:53 PM, Richard Stewart <rstewart@zoomtown. com> wrote:
        >
        >  
        > >More on the equipment...
        > >
        > >There is a lot of cross over between attaining grains for beer and grains for grinding. I've been looking for a whole lot of older equipment and have found lots of of small scale seed cleaners to go with our smaller combines. Small grains are a dying breed in this country and its exciting to begin to head in that direction. THis year we are doing organic corn (2 acres), red soft wheat (3 to 5 acres) and soup beans. Next year I hope to get into barley.
        > >
        > >I'll be more than happy to share the sources of large scale (1 ton and smaller) dry storage, and 50 to 100lb per hour processing and cleaning gear. It gets pricey for the older stuff, but if you think outside the box and team up with someone trying to do something similar, then you might do something like a co-op.
        > >
        > >Richard Stewart
        > >Carriage House Farm
        > >www.carriagehousefa rmllc.com
        > >
        >
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