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Old 09-06-2012, 04:19 PM   #191
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Other sources of seed -- yes, the National Plant Germplasm System will send you 5g of just about any seed in the world. That's where I got the bere barley seed from.
Outstanding project! I just acquired a few acres of my own in western MD, and hope to grow some hops and a bit of barley, myself. Out of curiosity, when you requested the seeds from the NPGS, what did you put as your "research topic"?

Gotta buckle down & till a bit of field...

Cheers!
--Misha
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:48 PM   #192
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Just stumbled upon this thread and read through it start to finish. Great work and great pics!

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Old 09-07-2012, 08:43 PM   #193
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Outstanding project! I just acquired a few acres of my own in western MD, and hope to grow some hops and a bit of barley, myself. Out of curiosity, when you requested the seeds from the NPGS, what did you put as your "research topic"?

Gotta buckle down & till a bit of field...

Cheers!
--Misha
Thanks for the very kind words!!!

I am intensely jealous of your recent purchase. For the NPGS, I explained that California no longer has any locally adapted varieties of malting barley. Every production malting barley was bred for the upper midwest: Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. They are resistant to upper midwest diseases and do best in an upper midwest growing season.

It wasn't always this way, so barley should be able to be adapted to most local climates in the US. Lynn Gallagher at UC Davis is undertaking a closely-related project (she's legit!), moving genes for resistance against local fungi and viruses into production malting barley varieties to engineer a California malt.

I just explained that I was going to use artificial selection to develop a locally-adapted malting strain. As it turns out, the crop did very well, so I don't think there was much selection pressure, at least not this first year. I'm told that typically when people try to grow midwestern barleys in the Bay Area, they get hammered by stripe rusts and yellow barley dwarf virus. I got lucky.

Anyway, tell them you're developing a malting barley variety for the Mid-Atlantic region, because that's precisely what you are doing! No need to stretch the truth -- NPGS will be more than happy to give you some material for your project.

Good luck on the farm! Are you going to plant a frost-resistant winter variety, or are you plowing to prepare the field for planting next spring?
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:07 AM   #194
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Anyway, tell them you're developing a malting barley variety for the Mid-Atlantic region, because that's precisely what you are doing! No need to stretch the truth -- NPGS will be more than happy to give you some material for your project.

Good luck on the farm! Are you going to plant a frost-resistant winter variety, or are you plowing to prepare the field for planting next spring?
Sounds simple enough... Developing a malting barley variety for the Mid-Atlantic. All the better, 'cause it's true!

I believe they occasionally do winter wheat, hereabouts; I'd like to try my hand at a winter barley. Unfortunately, the field is "too far gone" to put anything in it this fall. (We bought the place after the last owner died--and he hadn't kept up with anything for likely a few years. On the bright side, the field has been fallow for a while... On the down side, there's tons of work to be done...) Also, I don't know of any convenient sources of Charles barley (a winter 2-row). So, that'll have to wait until next year.

In the meantime, I can get a couple of small patches ready for some spring barley, to propagate & build up a seed stock. I'm thinking Bere, and maybe some Hana. (I'm into historical re-creation, and constantly researching beer history; those are the two oldest "named" varieties I've come across... Does anybody know of any other ones?) I'll probably start the field with something "normal," like Conlon, as well.

Cheers!
--Misha
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:27 AM   #195
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I believe they occasionally do winter wheat, hereabouts; I'd like to try my hand at a winter barley. Unfortunately, the field is "too far gone" to put anything in it this fall.
Best of luck! I bet there is something deeply satisfying about clearing a section of land to make a field.

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Also, I don't know of any convenient sources of Charles barley (a winter 2-row).
Kathy Stewart-Williams at U Idaho (williams@kimberly.uidaho.edu) was selling Charles last year for $48 per hundredweight. You have to buy at least 50 lbs, which is probably more than you need, but you'll have access to one of the only modern winter malting barleys.

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I'll probably start the field with something "normal," like Conlon, as well.
That's what I grew. As you already know, Conlon is the most likely of the varieties you mentioned to do well, but the least "interesting" in terms of historic appeal.

One thing to keep in mind is timing: a winter crop will mature a bit sooner than a spring crop, but no so much sooner that you can use the same field for a spring barley crop. So every year, you can plant winter or spring barley in one field, but not both.

Given that constraint, and given that there is still some risk of frost damage to a Winter barley, you may just want to plant spring barleys every year. One notable winter barley that would be worth growing despite the added challenge is Maris Otter.
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:50 PM   #196
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Best of luck! I bet there is something deeply satisfying about clearing a section of land to make a field.
It is rather nice, looking across what I've cleared so far and imagining what I'll have growing there...

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Kathy Stewart-Williams at U Idaho (williams@kimberly.uidaho.edu) was selling Charles last year for $48 per hundredweight. You have to buy at least 50 lbs, which is probably more than you need, but you'll have access to one of the only modern winter malting barleys.
I'll have to see if I can get some for next year. 50# is much more than I'll need, but I should be able to practice malting techniques on what doesn't get planted...


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That's what I grew. As you already know, Conlon is the most likely of the varieties you mentioned to do well, but the least "interesting" in terms of historic appeal.

One thing to keep in mind is timing: a winter crop will mature a bit sooner than a spring crop, but no so much sooner that you can use the same field for a spring barley crop. So every year, you can plant winter or spring barley in one field, but not both.

Given that constraint, and given that there is still some risk of frost damage to a Winter barley, you may just want to plant spring barleys every year. One notable winter barley that would be worth growing despite the added challenge is Maris Otter.
I've got about an acre to "play" with, more or less; I hope to break it down into 1/8-acre chunks, and rotate through. So, I should be able to do some of both spring and winter barley, plus a couple of other things, and not have to harvest everything all at once (I'll be working by hand, at least the first couple of years...).

I hadn't even thought of Maris Otter. Halcyon is a possibility, too. Hmmmm... Wheels are turning.

Regardless, once I get my field started, I'll have to document it... In its own thread, so as not to hijack this one any more than I already have.

I gather you'll be repeating the growing/harvesting next year? I'd like to be able to compare/contrast (and learn along with you)!

Cheers!
--Misha
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:40 AM   #197
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Regardless, once I get my field started, I'll have to document it... In its own thread, so as not to hijack this one any more than I already have.

I gather you'll be repeating the growing/harvesting next year? I'd like to be able to compare/contrast (and learn along with you)!

Cheers!
--Misha
Hey man, my goal is to make this thread a resource for anybody interested in growing every ingredient. There's enough hops information in other threads, so this one has tended to revolve around grains. If you want to add your work here, I'd love it!

Speaking of hops, my plants did alright,







but among 10 surviving plants, I only got about one ounce of hops! I attribute this to a first-year (and transplant) problem, but problems with irrigation and overfertilization may have contributed. Regardless, I think I got enough to bitter one small batch of beer.

I harvested the cones by hand and dried them in a 110F <35% humidity grain drying room for three days each. Then I put in freezer bags and store at 4C. Just need to get out there and grab a few more grains from the hay still sitting to the side of the field, and I'll finally have that 100% homegrown beer.

In the meantime a little beer porn:





Those are the homegrown and homemalted grains on the right, and the resultant beer on the left. It's a little bit darker (more orange) than an all-pale malt grist, right? Hmm, hard to say, but you can taste the crystal malt for sure.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:48 AM   #198
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Looks delicious! Is that the fresh hop beer that's on the tap there in the glass?

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Old 09-12-2012, 05:50 AM   #199
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Looks delicious! Is that the fresh hop beer that's on the tap there in the glass?
Yes, that's Fresh Hop in the glass. Oh, and just for clarification, Fresh Hop is the one that got the homemade malt.
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:23 PM   #200
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Default Barley is growing!

Just a quick "bump" to this thread, and an update on what I've got going on:

I requested 4 cultivars from the USDA, and to my surprise, they arrived at my place in a couple of days. The particular varieties were: Bere (6-row spring, British landrace that's probably been continuously cultivated since the Viking invasions), Hana (2-row spring, Moravian variety used in the first Pilsners), Maris Otter (2-row winter, English), and Halcyon (2-row winter, English, descended from Maris Otter, bred for higher yields). I also ordered some Conlon (2-row spring) commercially, so I would have a large enough plot of barley to do something with.

My first impression: the USDA provides 5g of seed. In barley terms, that's not quite enough for a 6 sq.ft. plot; still, a start is a start--I can "grow them up" in a few seasons into "real" quantities.

I don't have pics online yet (SWMBO "borrowed" my camera), but I got the winter varieties down in their "test" plots in late September. They took under a week to sprout, and they're a good 3-4" tall as of now. So far (knock wood) no critters seem to have taken any sort of an interest in them at all. My biggest concern has been weather: did I plant too early? too late? Most of my references say to sow the seed "about 4-5 weeks before first frost," which is currently predicted for this weekend. I figure I'm probably OK; this weekend will mark 4 weeks since planting. Hopefully, it will become a waiting game to seeing how cold this winter is... Isn't this a fun game?

In the meantime, I've still got to revamp the barn to become a brewing space, plus about a million other things... As soon as I'm able to "steal" the camera back, I'll post pictures. (I'll probably have more on my blog, as well; the link is in my sig).

Cheers!
--Misha

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