Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
Sniffles

Growing SoCal Barley

Recommended Posts

I am starting thread as I am a bit disappointed in the availability of good Barley seed and Agricultural knowledge. (Especially in Southern California)

Where should I begin? I know...

Where the heck can I get some "High Quality" malting grade barley seed?  As you all may know there are many stains and varieties of barley. And if you have been searching like me you know it is very difficult to come by premium grade 2 row or 6 row malting barley seed. Especially on a small home growers/brewer scale.  So from what I can tell the big secret is most high end malting barley is owned by major growers and Breweries and the only available seed comes in large Quantities (Metric Tons).  So if you are like me, someone with a small to medium size back yard, you have no place to erect a Grain Silo to house the Dump truck of seed you have to buy.  There has got to be a better way.

 What I did was reach out to my local agricultural colleges and National Germplasm repositories for knowledge about different varieties of barley seed.  I found the repository to be most Informational. Although I did not talk with anyone personally their web site was very easy to use and navigate.  I learned alot about the different varieties of Barley.  I also found some great info on ancient barley for all you purists out there.  I recommend doing a google search for "GRIN"   This has got to be the coolest Website for soeone who is into learning about Agriculture.  I found what seemed to be an endless source of knowledge on every variety of barley known to man. (Awesome!!!)  If you are planning on growing barley save your self some time and start there.

I was able to obtain a small amount of seed for researching the adaptability of a few selected Barley varieties in Southern California and I will try to post my findings.

I selected a German barley called Firlbecks III.  I picked this variety because it has already been adapted to Northern California soil about 60 years ago.  I know SoCal is much more of a dry climate than NorCal.  But being from Orange county I figured I might be ok because the temperatures are stable and the winters are mild but cold enough to stimulate a good winter crop and maybe even two harvests provided I can Keep the sun from baking the Crop.

Firlbecks III 

9222acf1-8602-4c5b-9b2f-d4714ba95e99.jpg

Currently Spring is about to start so I am too late to Plant on a full scale. But I started a small grow out test planter that I am artificially keeping cool to see if I can grow out some of this seed as a late Crop. 

Germination:

I started My seed by Hydrating them just like you would in the Malting Process.  I took 6 seeds and soaked them in luke warm water for Apx 8 hours. Then removed them from the water and wrapped them in a damp paper towel for 6 more hours.  Temperature is a little important here. Fortunately It was about 60 - 65 for a week strait so I was able to do this with out to much concern.  I only soaked once because I only wanted to get the Barley to start Germinating.  I knew I was ready to plant when little white nodules begin to protrude out of the bottom of each seed.  This is called "chitting".

cda2113c-446b-482a-b18a-408e28c8bc35.jpe

   

Once the seed started chitting I prepared a small Tree planter  about 25" - 30" around and about 25" tall.  This should be plenty of soil and drainage for the barley to get a good root structure.  I plated the seed about 1" under the soil in a cirlular pattern about 5" apart with one in the center and soaked the soil until it started draining from the bottom of the planter.  (I read it is really important not to over water you can damage the root structure and rot out your seed)  you only need to water every so often.  just enough to keep the soil damp.  It is OK for he top soil to dry out after a couple days.  as long as the soil is moist underneath.  At the current time I have watered 3 times in two weeks.  (by watering I mean just eough water to dampen the soil not soak)

I left the Planter out in a place where it got a good amount of morning sun and shade for he hotter part of the day.   I also Packed it with Ice in the first couple nights to cool the soil.  After 4 days sure enough I had 6 sprouts breaking the soil.  Once the Seed sprouted I stopped packing the soil with Ice.  This only took 3 nights.  the seed  was well on its way out of the soil on the 4th day.   I will upload some pictures tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was a really interesting post!

If you have a college near you with an agriculture extension office they may be willing to help you especially if you provide feedback.  Michigan State has been extremely helpful with the grape and hops growers here in Michigan and I am sure they have been helping those who have started growing grains as well.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks!

Yeah I looked at some of the Local colleges but Southern Cali is not know for its Agriculture outside of grapes and citrus. so I decided not to press the Scholastic communities as there is not a strong AG presence in SOCAL.  none the less GRIN was Awesome.  you should check them out.  I think they actually supply the AG colleges with seed for research.

Do you know a good supplier for Hops rhizomes?  I know it is getting close to Harvesting time for rhizomes and I want to get a Jump on Hops.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that's quite an adventure with the grain!  Finding hop rhyzomes should be much easier.  At least one of the local home brew stores ("LHBS") near me sells them, although it's a seasonal offering.  I don't know anyone who has tried to grow their own grain, but I do have friends who grow their own hops.  If all else fails, don't overlook internet storefronts, including searching via Google. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure where to get rhizomes as we buy the full plants out of western Michigan.

Yup, most LHBSs will carry rhizones when they are in season.  Problem is that usually you will need to preorder as it is not something they want stuck on their shelves.  Make sure they are from a reputable grower as if one shows up diseased it will infect everything.  A grower I know had to pull between 5 and 10 acres as the disease started to propagate.  Not good.  That being said, I would probably stay away from places like eBay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very cool. sounds like you are having a good time with your barley growing experience. I don't have a place to that but I may look into the hops growing thing.. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some Pics of my test Bed. so far.

Week 1 (after 6 days)

bed4eed7-ca69-4ba8-9771-25643cebf371.jpg

Week 2  (After 9 days)

e3e0d543-28e1-4602-9ef5-cbf641d45bc7.jpg

Week 2  (After 11 days)

d687713e-d3d2-48e7-afeb-1d70dc876e63.jpg2f64c022-73d5-4337-96d8-fa9ab6cabfdf.jpg

So far It looks like I am getting 1 - 1 1/2 inches every 3 days.  these things grow fast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck with your project, Sniffles.

How big of a plot do you intend to plant once you have decided on a barley type?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I plan on planting two sections about 5' x 25' each.  this should allow for me to grow about 10-15 Lbs of Barley.  I have Three types of Barley I need to grow out to get enough seed for Beer.  I actually hope two of them will cross.  One of them is a Mexican grown Barley the other is the Firlbecks III in the Pictures above.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree but that is the next step.  I am going to get a 50LB sack of regular barley to practice with before I try malting my crop.  I can't start My first Crop until this fall and I have to grow out all my barley since I was only able to acquire a small amount of seed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is My barley as of the 15 day mark.53bbf06c-18ca-4e11-8f4c-06e61c259c35.jpg

I also started building a Hops Post since they are in season.  I am going to start with Cascade.

fb800bb9-0ca0-49eb-bb9a-1be89001a222.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...