Barley Crop Farming and Production in India
- Barley can be grown in Sandy loam, Loam and Medium or heavy black soil
- Slightly saline sandy soil with neutral ph is tolerable for Barley cultivation
- Most farmers still farm with old non-hybrid seeds with poor yield even though there are better varieties available from agricultural unvieseites
- is maily cultivated as a rabi crop in Irrigated and rainfed conditions
- Requires 2-3 irrigations for better yield but may need 5-6 irrigations in areas like Rajasthan where climatic conditions are extremely dry
- Being a fast-growing plant, barley outgrows most weeds and requires minimal weed control measures
- Manual roguing is practised in 3 stages. During the pre-flowering stage, flowering stage and maturity.
- barley should be harvested before over-ripening as has a shattering character. Store in a dry place where moisture content is low.
- Yield averages from 2000 to 2500 kg per hectare in rainfed crops and around 3500-4000 in irrigated crops
Barley Cultivation in India
India ranks 22nd in Barley production worldwide with Russia topping the list. Rajasthan is the largest producer of barley in India. The total Production of Barley in India was 1.67 million metric tonnes in 2021 which was a bit lesser than the year 2020 when it stood at 1.72 million metric tonnes.
when you compare the total production of wheat in India during 2021 it stood at 106 million metric tonnes which is significantly higher. Why is barley not produced in India? There are a lot of reasons for it. For one, it’s not a staple crop or staple food. India consumes far lesser barley as food than some other countries. Barley is the base ingredient in beer, an alcoholic drink and the beer market is mostly dependent on the production of beer in the country. in 2019 and 2020, barley was imported to India for the production of beer. This indicates the market for barley and the lack of enough produce to meet the demands in the local market.
There are a lot of information gaps between farmers and the companies requiring these products which fail to inform farmers of their demands. this results in farmers moving to other crops which are usually in constant demand, often ignoring crops like barley. Barley can be grown in abundance in most parts of the country. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are excellent for growing barley. there are some limitations too in terms of transportation. While production in Rajasthan is extremely profitable, transportation to manufacturing units is difficult. Beer is manufactured in Telangana and Maharashtra. Transportation from Rajasthan to these states often costs money. Most beer manufacturers are looking for raw materials locally to cut down costs.
As for domestic consumption of barley, the trend seems to be on the declining side with a 10% reduction in 2021 and a 14 % reduction in 2022. Barley is consumed as kichdi and in soups but this is not a preferred food grain in most of the country and its interest as a cereal is decreasing. Though a healthy cereal, there needs to be a lot more awareness of barley and its benefits for Indian consumers and this may in itself be a challenge.
- Climate for Cultivation: Barley grows well in Arid areas. A\Rajasthan, Gujarat, Parts of UP and MP are excellent for growing barley. Though barley can be grown in many other states, viability is a major question. Most states which can cultivate barely do not consume it and its production is mostly meant for beer manufacturing. The beer manufacturing units are limited to very few states in the country which limits barley cultivation to states with the production of beer or where transportation to these states is possible easily. Barley is a Rabi crop and is a short crop with a span of 130 days.
- Ideal Soil for Cultivation: Barley can be grown in a wide range of soil but sandy loam soil and black soil are considered the best. Slightly saline soil with neutral ph is also found to be great for barley cultivation which makes it a preferred crop where water salinity is a problem.
- Varieties of Barley: There are over 50 varieties of Barley seeds which are high yielding new in the field. These seeds are available from agricultural universities in each area they are cultivated. The varieties used in each area are different based on soil structure and climatic conditions. It’s advised that farmers use the right seeds recommended by agricultural universities near you. Sowing different varieties just based on the yield will only lead to poor yield if it’s not suitable for your conditions. seed varies also for rainfed and irrigated crops. Varieties also differ from food crop, fodder or malt (beer) requirements.
- Season: Barley is a Rabi crop and sowing in India starts from October and harvests in march. The second season starts in March / April depending on when the first harvest finishes.
- Land Preparation: The land has to be free from weeds and they are ploughed twice. The use of disc harrow is used for ploughing the field. Since the crop is very sensitive to water, the field has to be levelled properly. the use of a laser leveller is recommended. For irrigated areas, the field should be prepared after pre-sowing irrigation. farmers should plant in raised beds.
- Planting: 100 kg of seed is recommended per hectare of barley cultivation. the seeds may increase depending on rainfed or irrigated crops, variety etc. Determine the seed requirements from the seed vendor or agricultural universities.
- Spacing and Density: Sowing is practised with seed drills or a change. Broadcasting is found to be ineffective in barley crops as the seed needs to be at least 2-3 centimetres deep and often 5 centimetres deep. soil is made compact by running a roller over the field after sowing to ensure that the seeds are in contact with the soil.
- Crop rotation: crop rotation is common in barley in many parts of India. the most common crop which is rotated is rice. Other crops are rotated depending on the area.
- Irrigation: Irrigation is required for barley only 3 times throughout the entire growth cycle in most parts of the country unless it’s extremely dry. Once during sowing, then in 30 and 60 days during panicle formation and then during grain formation.
- Fertilizers: NPK is usually used in very low quantities when in comparison to other crops. 55 kg of urea in 2 doses, SSP 75 kg and 10 kg of potash during basal application is recommended. barley cultivation excels with organic fertilizers. the use of farm yard manure and compost is in most cases sufficient. Application of FYM at 10 tonnes per acre during land preparation should be sufficient in most cases.
- Pests, Diseases: Barley is prone to a range of pests and diseases including loose and covered smut, Rust, Leaf blight, aphid and molya disease. While some diseases can be reduced with the right seeds free from diseases and breeds resistant to such problems, other pests can be deterred with the use of pesticides.
Harvesting: Harvesting Barley starts at the end of march and continues till mid-April. The crops should be harvested when it starts to ripen. the moisture content of the grains is approximately 20% during harvest and with lower moisture content, the spikes tend to break due to dryness.
- Post Harvest: depending on the requirement of the crop, the grains are stored or transported immediately. For barley crops grown for malt, the requirements of the purchasers are met regarding moisture content. for grain purposes, the moisture content is reduced to 10 % and stored in a dry area away from humidity. barely grains are known to attract humidity from the air and should be protected from it.
- Yield: The average yield of 2000-2500 kilos is acquired in most varieties in rainfed conditions. The yield can go up to 3500 kilos per hectare for irrigated conditions.