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Forage Identification: Barley

Department of Plant Sciences

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

The exact origin of barley is still unknown, although many speculate Asia and the Mediterranean.


Growth Habitat:
Winter or spring annual. If seeded in the spring, however, the plant fails to produce heads.


Plant Characteristics:
The stems are erect, stout, tufted and grow to 60 to 120 centimeters tall. It has few leaves, which alternate. The upper leaf is close to the spike. The sheath is smooth and striate. Barley has large auricles which tend to clasp or overlap. The ligules are short and membrane-like.


Seed Characteristics:
Light tan to yellowish color, spindle shaped. Barley is lighter than wheat and rye.

Important Identifying Characteristics:
Barley has long, smooth, sharp pointed auricles which tend to clasp or overlap.

Primary Uses:
Hay, pasture and silage.

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