Barley is known to be like wheat in the way they are both cereals and edible grain of the grass family. There are many different varieties of the genus, Hordeum. Barley is a hardy, adaptable plant found in ancient ruins and tombs. This shows that barley was one of man's earliest foods. Barley is sometimes described as 'bearded' because of the appearance of the long, brittle spikes known as awns that form part of the sheath enclosing the seed. The awns are broken off the grains during threshing.

This shows that barley was one of man's earliest foods. Like Oats and Rye, barley is mostly grown In the Northern Hemisphere: - Canada and the USA, West and East of Europe and Russia. The highest yields of barley are obtained in Europe although the largest area sown is Russia, followed by Asia, then with Europe third. Barley among wheat, oats and rye is the chief cereal grown in temperature climates. Barley was grown by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. It is now the fourth-largest grain crop, after wheat, rice, and maize.

In the greater part of Europe, the United States, and Canada barley is sown in the spring. Along the Mediterranean Sea and in parts of California and Arizona, it is sown in autumn. It is also grown as a winter-sown annual crop in many areas. Drought-resistant and hardy, barley can be grown on marginal cropland; salt-resistant strains are being developed to increase its usefulness in coastal regions. Barley germinates at about the same temperature as wheat. The different cultivated varieties of barley belong to three distinct types: two-rowed barley, six-rowed barley, and irregular barley.

The varieties grown in Europe are generally the two-rowed type; in the United States the six-rowed type predominates and the irregular type is found in Ethiopia. The finest malting varieties are the six-rowed and the two-rowed types.