Barley Crop Cultivation in India

Barley crop is one of the most important food crop in the world. Here is the complete guidance on barley production in India.

Barley or Jau, scientifically known as Hordeum vulgare L. is one of the most important cereal crops in the world after rice, wheat and maize. Barley plant is a Rabi cereal crop from the grass family Poaceae. Barley crop is mostly found in cooler and semi-arid part of the world. It is believed that barley was originated in the Middle East. During the ancient time it was mainly grown for human consumption but nowadays barley production is also used for animal feed, malt products and human food.

Different Types of Barley

There are three main types of barley:

  1. Hordeum vulgare: This six -rowed barley variety bears a spike notched on opposite sides with three spikelets on each notch. Each notch carries a floret that later matures into a kernel. This variety of barley is the mostly cultivated variety across the world.
  2. Hordeum distichum: This two-rowed type of barley bears central florets which produce kernels. Its lateral florets are sterile.
  3. Hordeum irregulare: This variety is not cultivated for commercial purpose. It has fertile central florets and lateral florets could be sterile or fertile or both.
Barley crop
Barley crop

Global Production of Barley Crop

The barley crop is grown in around 70 million hectares of land across the world. Global production stands around 160 million tons. In the world, Europe is the most leading continent growing Barley followed by Asia. Other barley producing countries are Russian federation, China, Canada, USA, Spain, France, Australia, UK and India. In India, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the major producers of barley crop.

Country wise barley production in past 10 years

Barley production
World barley production | Source: USDA, Unit -1000 HA

Barley Production in India – In last 10 years

YearProduction (1000 MT)

Source: USDA, Unit -1000 HA

Barley Cultivation

  • Climatic requirement: Barley can be grown as summer or winter crop. It can be successfully grown in tropical and subtropical climatic condition. The crop requires around 12-15°C temperature during growing period and around 30-32°C at maturity. The crop is extremely frost sensitive at any stage of growth. Any incidence of frost at flowering stage can result in huge yield loss. Barley crop is tolerant to drought and can survive in high temperatures.
  • Soil requirement: Barley is mostly cultivated in sandy to moderately heavy loam soils. Therefore, soil of Indo-Gangetic plains having neutral to saline reaction and medium fertility are the most suitable soil types for barley cultivation. Barley crop can be cultivated in saline, sodic and lighter soils too. Soil acidity impairs the root growth of barley crop hence acidic soils are not suitable for barley cultivation.

Barley Crop Varieties for Different Production Conditions in India

Sl.Variety NameReleased bySuitable AreasYield and MaturitySpecial characteristic/s
1AmberChandra Shekhar Azad University, KanpurEastern Uttar PradeshGrain yield: 25-30 q/ha Maturity: 130-133 daysFine quality grains for malt production
2Azad (K.125)Chandra Shekhar Azad University, KanpurEastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West BengalFodder yield: 150 q/ha, grain yield: 20 q/ha

Maturity: 115-120 days

  • Resistance to yellow rust disease
  • Used for grain and fodder both
3BG – 25Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar Grain yield: 30 q/ ha Maturity: 120-130 days 
4BG 108Haryana Agricultural University, HissarLate sowing regionsGrain yield: 20-25 q/ ha Maturity: 120-125 
5ClipperAustralia Grain yield: 28-30 q/ha Maturity: 135-140 daysIdeal for malt making and brewing
6C -164 Irrigated areasGrain yield: 30-32 q/haResistance to yellow rust
7DolmaShimlaRainfed regions of medium to high elevation of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh hilly zonesGrain yield: 35-40 q/ ha Maturity: 140-150 days 
8Himani Medium to lower hill-valleys of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar PradeshGrain yield: 32-36 q/ha 
9JyotiChandra Shekhar Azad University, KanpurIrrigated areas of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh. Delhi, north-western Rajasthan, Bihar and West BengalGrain yield: 35-40 q/ha Maturity: 120-125 days 
10Karan 201, 231 & 264All India Coordinated Barley Improvement ProjectMahendargarh part of Gurgaon, Haryana, Eastern areas of Madhya Pradesh and RajasthanKaran 201 – 38 q/ha

Karan 231 – 42.5 q/ha

Karan 264 – 46 q/ha

Suitable for multiple and relay cropping systems
11Kailash Medium to low elevation of Himachal Pradesh rainfed hilly areasGrain yield: 40 q/ha

Maturity: 145-150 days

Unaffected by yellow rust disease (caused by Puccinia fungus)
12KedarIndian Agricultural Research Institute, New DelhiLate sowing regions Dwarf variety, resistant to yellow rust and insects
13LSB-2 Higher altitude of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh hilly areasGrain yield: 25-30 q/ha Maturity: 145-150 daysSix-row barley variety
14NeelamIndian Agricultural Research Institute, New DelhiIrrigated and rainfed areas of Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar PradeshGrain yield: 50 q/ haThe grains are rich in protein and amino acids like lysine
15PL 56 Rainfed areas of PunjabGrain Yield: 30 q/ haSomewhat resistant to yellow rust fungal disease
16Ranjit (DL-70) Irrigated areas of PunjabGrain yield 30-35 q/haIdeal for multiple crop rotations
17RatnaIndian Agricultural Research Institute, New DelhiRainfed eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West BengalFodder yield: 150 q/ha, grain yield: 20 q/ha Maturity: 125-130 daysHighly tolerant to saline and alkaline soils
18RDB – 1 Irrigated areas of RajasthanGrain yield: 30-35 q/ haSuitable for rust free areas only
19RS – 6RajasthanRainfed and irrigated areas of central and eastern RajasthanGrain yield: 35 to 40 q/ha Maturity: 130-135 daysSuitable for malt production and brewing
20VijayaChandra Shekhar Azad University, KanpurRainfed areas of western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya PradeshGrain yield: 30-35 q/ha

Maturity: 120-125 days


Barley Cultivation Practices

Land Preparation for Barley Cultivation

Two to three ploughing with cultivator is required followed by planking after every ploughing.

Seed and Sowing

Production ConditionSeed rate (Kg/ha)Time of SowingSpacing (cm)
Irrigated Timely sown10010-25 November23
Irrigated Late sown12526 Nov.-31 Dec.18
Rainfed Plains10025 Oct.-10 Nov.23
Rainfed Hilly Region10020 Oct.-7 Nov.23

Barley Seed Treatment

Seed treatment is very important step before sowing. Proper seed treatment methodologies should be implemented to save the barley crop from termites, ants and other insect pests. Barley has very poor resistance to loose smuts. Treatment of loose smut disease can be performed with Vitavax or Bavistin @ 2 gm/kg seed. To control covered smut disease symptoms, mixture of Thiram + Bavistin or Vitavax (1:1 ratio) @ 2.5 gm/kg seed is recommended.

Termites can cause huge crop loss in barley. To avoid it, seed treatment with 150 ml of Chloropyriphos (20 EC) or 250 ml Formathion (25 EC) in 5 litres of water for 100 Kg seed is advisable. For sowing in saline and alkaline areas, soaking the seeds in water over night at room temperature is needed for better and quick germination.

Spacing for Barley Plant

Row spacing for irrigated situation should be 22.5cm and 22.5 to 25 cm for rainfed situation. Depth of sowing must be 5cm under irrigated situation, whereas, in rainfed condition it should be 6- 8cm.

Method of Sowing

Seed drilling or seed dropping techniques are the best ways for seed sowing. Indian farmers mostly use Chonga for dropping seed to field which is attached to a desi plough.

Fertilizer Application

Cultivating conditionsFertilizer Requirement (Kg/ha)
Irrigated and timely sown6030
Irrigated and late sown6030
Rainfed plain areas3020
Rainfed hilly areas4020

Mode of Application

In irrigated areas, application of half of the nitrogen and full dose of phosphorous are recommended as basal dose. Remaining half of the nitrogen should be top dressed after first irrigation or 30 days after sowing. In the light soil conditions, one third of nitrogen and full dose of phosphorous should be applied as basal dose, one third of nitrogen can be applied after first irrigation and rest one third of nitrogen can be applied after second irrigation.

In irrigated crop area conditioning the field with about 10-15 tonnes of FYM or organic compost gives good results. FYM provides essential nutrients to the crop and also helps in overcoming salt problems of saline and alkali soils. It should be applied before a month of sowing.

Irrigation in Barley Production

Since barley is a winter season crop, it can withstand drought conditions very efficiently. Thus, barley crop requires less irrigation and limited water availability. However, it requires 2-3 irrigations for superior yield. The malt barley requires 3 irrigations to ensure better yield, grain uniformity and grain quality. Depending upon the water availability, suitable stages for irrigation should be identified.

No. of IrrigationCrop Stage
OneAt Crown Root Initiation (30-35 days after sowing)
TwoAt Panicle Emergence (65-70 days after sowing)
ThreeAt Tillering Stage (35-40 days after sowing)

Under limited water resources, first irrigation should be applied at active tillering stage. If water is available for two irrigations, crop should be irrigated at active tillering and flowering stages.

Barley Crop Protection

Weed Control

Generally, weeds cannot compete with barley crop because it grows very fast. Barley crop can withstand optimum weed population, if proper crop care is taken. Broad and narrow leaves are two major weeds in barley.

Type of Weeds
Broad Leaf
Generic NameScientific NameWeedicidesDoses/haMethod of application


Krishna Neel

Wild Carrot

Chenopodiun album

Convolvulus arvensis

Anagalis arvensis

Cronopus didymus

2,4-D (Na-Salt 80%)

2,4-D (Easter 38%)

625 gm

625 gm

30-35 day after sowing in 250 liters of water
Narrow Leaf
Wild Oat


Avena fatua

Phalaris minor

Isoproturan 75 % WP or

Pendimethillin (Stomp) 30% EC

1250 gm

3.75 liters

After 30-35 days of sowing, mixing in 250 liters of water
Broad & Narrow leaves both Isoproturan 75% WP
2,4-D (Easter 38%)
Isogard Plus
1.00 Kg
0.75 Kg
1.25 Kg
After 30-35 days of sowing, mixing in 250 liters of water

Diseases and Insect-pests in Barley Plant

Loose and covered smut: Seed treatment with Vitavax/Bavistin @ 2g/kg seed for loose smut, and Vitavax & Thiram in the ratio of 1:1 or Tebuconazole 1.5 g/kg seed for covered smut is advised. Solar treatment to the seeds can be given during the month of May-June. Smutted earheads should be collected and burnt away from the crop field.

Rust: Rusts are multiple cycle diseases and spread like a wild fire under favourable environments. The use of resistant varieties is highly recommended. Spraying with Tilt 0.1% or Bayleton 0.1% or Folicur 0.1% (1 ml in 1 litre water) immediately after appearance of the disease should be done.

Leaf Blight: It is severe in areas where the day is warm and humid especially in north eastern parts. Seed treatment with Vitavax and Spraying with Bayleton 0.1% or Tilt @ 0.1% or Folicur 0.1% (1 ml/litre of water) is recommended.

Aphid: Barley crop is affected by aphid which causes heavy loss to the crop as well as the grain quality in susceptible variety. Spraying with Imidacloprid @ 20 g ai/ ha or Clothianidin @ 15 g ai/ha in 1000 litres of water. In case of heavy incidence, the second spray can be made at an interval of 15 days.

Molya disease: The CCN affected soils are common in sandy areas of north eastern Rajasthan and adjoining Haryana. This causes heavy losses in crop by drastically reducing tillering and earhead formation. The use of resistant varieties should be encouraged in such areas.

Crop Rotations Practiced in Barley

StateCrop Rotation
BiharSugarcane-Barley, Sesame-Barley, Pigeon pea-Barley
JharkhandSugarcane-Barley, Sesame-Barley, Pigeon pea-Barley
HimachalPradesh Maize-Barley, Rice-Barley
Jammu & KashmirRice-Barley
PunjabRice-Barley, Maize-Barley, Cotton-Barley
RajasthanCluster bean-Barley
Uttar PradeshMaize-Barley, Rice-Barley, Sorghum-Barley, Pigeon pea-Barley, Sugarcane-Barley, Bajra-Barley

Harvesting and Storage

Barley ears bend downwards when they mature. Generally, the crop gets ready for harvest by the end of March to first fortnight of April. Sometimes, strong winds can blow off barley kernels therefore it should be harvested on time to avoid yield loss.

Yield: Under irrigated condition grain yield is around 3.0 – 3.5 t/ha and straw yield is about 4.0-5.0 t/ha. In rainfed situation, depending on the weather condition, grain yield levels vary from 1.5-3.0 t/ha to 3.0 t/ha.

Economic Importance of Barley Crop

Barley is a crop for food and feed both. Worldwide, 30% of the total global barley production is used for making malt and 70 % is used as forage feed for livestock. Malted barley or malt is preferably used in beer making. Malted barley is also used in several food items like biscuits, bread, cakes, desserts, etc. Energy rich drinks like bournvita, boost and horlicks also contain barley malt.

Barley is abundant with carbohydrates and protein therefore ideal source as livestock feed. Barley straw is also used for animal bedding in developed countries. Barley straw is used for making hats, packing and for manufacturing of cellulose pulp.


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