Indian Farmers Grow Mostly Low-Yield Barley
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Barley is primarily a cereal grain popularly known as “jau” in India. It is the fourth most important cereal crop after rice, wheat, and corn. Barley can be cultivated in a subtropical climate. The crop needs 12 to 15 degrees Celsius while growing and 30 degrees Celsius when fully mature. Frost cannot be tolerated at any growth stage, and when it occurs during flowering, the yield is severely harmed. The crop has a wide range of high levels of drought and sodic condition tolerance. Rajasthan has historically been the largest Barley-producing state in India. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jammu & Kashmir are the principal Barley-growing states.
Sandy loam to loamy sand soils of Indo-Gangetic plains having neutral to mild saline reactions and medium fertility is the most suitable type for Barley cultivation; however, it may be grown on a variety of soil types, viz; saline, sodic and lighter soils. Being salt resistant, its cultivation has become possible on salty coastal areas of Sunderban in West Bengal and saline black soils of canal irrigated areas of northern Karnataka.
Indian Barley Growing Zones can be divided into three. Eastern region: this comprises Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. In this region, Barley is grown in the basins of the Ganga and Mahanadi rivers. Barley is grown here primarily for feeding cattle. Northern region: this comprises Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir. The region experiences low winter temperature, and a single Barley crop is grown here. Western region: this comprises mainly Rajasthan and some parts of Madhya Pradesh. Barley is primarily grown in Rajasthan and contributes to over 40% of total Barley production in India.
The production volume of Barley across India during the financial year 2021 was about 1.67 million metric tons, slightly down from about 1.72 million metric tons in the previous year. The production volume of Barley was the highest at about 1.83 million tons in 2014 over the past decade in the country. The USDA predicted production at 1.60 million metric tons for MY2022/23. According to AgFlow data, India imported 130,013 tons of Barley from Argentina in 2022, followed by France (29,000 tons).
Indian Barley Varieties
Most of the farmers, even today, are growing old Barley varieties like Manjula, Azad, Jagriti (UP), BH 75 (Haryana), PL 172 (Punjab), and Sonu & Dolma (HP), though their yield is relatively low. Under such conditions, farmers have to grow new varieties to get a better yield. An appropriate type should be selected as per the requirement of the area, climatic & environmental conditions, and use. For Barley cultivation for industrial uses, an excellent malt-type variety may be selected.
Indian Malt Barley Varieties are BH-75, PL-426, BH-393, Alfa93, BCU73, RD2503, K551, DL88, DWR 28, DWRUB52, RD2668, DWRB 73, DWRUB64, and DWRUB52. Feed Barley Varieties (Irrigated) are RD2035, RD2503 RD2552, BH 902, PL426, K 329, K 508, K 409, Narendra Barley-2 (NDB940), BH 393, RD2592, and PL751. Feed Barley Varieties (Rainfed) are RD2508, K560, K603, RD2624, PL419, RD2660, and Getanjali (K1149).
In North Western Plains Zone, BH 946 (feed) and DWRB 92 (malt) varieties have higher yields of 52 q/ha and 49.8 q/ha, respectively. In North Eastern Plains Zone, RD 2552 (food and fodder) and K508 (UP) (food) varieties have higher yields of 38.4 q/ha and 40.5 q/ha, respectively.
Farmers have to use the quality seed for better production. The better quality seeds could be obtained from National Seed Corporation (NSC), State Seed Farm Corporation (SFCI), research institutions, agricultural universities, and KVKs. Seed treatment is essential to control seed-born diseases in a Barley crop.
Other sources: IIWBR.ICAR
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