Developing Winter Barley as an Alternative Crop to Capture an Emerging Market and Increase Diversification and Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Cody Creech
Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


  • Agronomic: barley


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: crop rotation, fertilizers, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Winter barley is a versatile crop with applications ranging from feed and food to beverage manufacturing. The University of Nebraska (UNL) has an active winter barley breeding program and has released several promising varieties. However, adoption and production have been limited due to a lack of market. Recently, a group of interested Nebraska farmers has come to the University of Nebraska expressing the desire to include winter barley into their dryland cropping systems due in part to the consistently high yields of varieties bred by the UNL barley breeding program. They have connected with a regional grain mill to market the grain and identify quality parameters for production. These producers and the grain mill have consulted with Nebraska researchers for guidance on production methods. This research and educational partnership with these growers, grain mill, and Nebraska researchers will identify preferred varieties and production methods to meet the grain quality criteria of the grain mill while also maximizing grain yield. As this project develops beyond this initial effort, other farmers across the region will be brought in to produce barley to meet the market demand. Results will be shared with growers at field days, workshops, and publications.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our objectives to be conducted on-farm with farmer cooperators will be: (1) to evaluate commercially available and experimental winter barley varieties for performance and adaptability to the High Plains region; (2) to determine the optimal seeding population that will enable the crop to maximize yield meet quality parameters; (3) evaluate fertility management options to enhance grain quality; (4) Disseminate research results through field days, extension and peer-reviewed publications, media outlets, and winter research updates to provide farmers with the knowledge and resources necessary to be successful growing winter barley.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.