While hulless barley varieties are primarily used for this food end use, they are perfectly suitable for other end uses, as well.
Hulless barley varieties are exciting for the barley industry, thanks to their potential for food, feed and industrial uses. Hulless barleys have a weaker attachment of the hull to the seed kernel than regular barley varieties, allowing the hull to separate from the kernel when the seed is mature and dry. These varieties are well suited for human food applications, like flour production, because the hull does not need to be removed prior to milling.
According to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD), hulless barley for human consumption should be:
- Free of hulls (5 per cent or less) 60 lb/bu
- Free of cracked and broken kernels (4 per cent or less)
- Fully mature
- Look bright, clean and free of diseased, frosted, sprouted or stained kernels
AARD also provides tips for harvesting and handling hulless barley, including:
- As harvest approaches, continuously check the stage of maturity of your hulless barley.
- If lodging is a problem, swath as soon as possible to reduce field losses and kernel staining.
- Highest seed quality is achieved through straight combining or swathing just prior to combining.
- Hulless barley must be dry when combined to successfully de-hull the kernels. The hull will stick to the kernel if the grain is moist.
- Use a tight concave setting and a slow cylinder speed when combining to minimize kernel damage and maximize hull removal.
- Seed cleaning plant de-bearders are very good at removing hulls as a secondary buffing process. This is a fast, inexpensive way to improve chances of achieving human consumption grade.
- Hulless barley will occupy one-third of the space occupied by regular barley. Keep this is mind when filling trucks and bins.
There are several hulless barley varieties registered in Canada. A full list of Canadian registered varieties is maintained by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.