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Fourth Annual Barley Field School Held at North Dakota State University

The fourth annual Barley Field School offered by the Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences at North Dakota State University covered how to successfully grow high quality malting barley and basic malting and brewing information. The focus of the school is hands-on and covers information on botanical and physiological factors in barley growth, grain handling and storage information specific to malting barley, risk management and marketing, and practical advice from barley growers in North Dakota.

September 17, 2015

Twenty individuals from Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Canada and Norway traveled to North Dakota State University to attend the Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences Fourth Annual Barley Field School July 20 to 23. The group included farmers planning to grow malting barley; emerging and established brewing and malting company employees and owners; educators and researchers from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania; specialty grain marketers; and international malting and brewing entrepreneurs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota has long ranked as one of the top barley producing states in the U.S. NDSU is the only university that has a fully integrated barley program, including 2-rowed and 6-rowed barley breeding programs, barley pathology and barley and malt quality research programs, as well as experts in agricultural economics and engineering programs who understand barley production issues.

Over the years, barley production has moved to the western part of the U.S. due to disease and competition from other crops. However, in recent years the craft brewing trend and local food production trends have led to increased interest in growing barley in eastern states. 

To ease an information vacuum in areas where barley has not recently been grown, Dr. Richard Horsley and Dr. Paul Schwarz, along with the North Dakota Barley Council, began offering field schools for those seeking information on how to successfully grow high quality malting barley and also basic malting and brewing information. The focus of the school is hands-on and covers information on botanical and physiological factors in barley growth, grain handling and storage information specific to malting barley, risk management and marketing, and practical advice from barley growers in North Dakota. The first school was offered in 2012 and attendance has increased steadily each year since.

2015 Barley Field School lectures and presenters were:

  • The Effect of Soil on Barley Growth and Quality, R. Jay Goos, NDSU Soil Scientist
  • Barley Breeding and Growing Practices and Effect on Malt Quality, Richard Horsley, NDSU Barley Breeder
  • Barley Harvest and Storage, Kenneth Hellevang, NDSU Agriculture Engineering Specialist
  • North Dakota Foundation Seed Program and How to Find Barley Seed, Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes, ND Foundation Seedstocks Assistant Director
  • Barley Malt Quality, Paul Schwarz, NDSU Barley and Malt Quality Specialist
  • Cropping Decisions and How Farmers Decide to Grow Barley, Andy Swenson, NDSU Agribusiness and Applied Economics Specialist
  • Malt Barley Markets, William Wilson, NDSU Distinguished Professor of Agribusiness and Applied Economics

Tours and hands-on activities offered were the state-of-the-art NDSU Agriculture Experiment Station Greenhouse, the NDSU Barley and Malt Quality Labs, the NDSU Barley Pathology Nursery and research plots, the NDSU Commodity Trading Room, a commercial elevator facility and a small grain farm in central North Dakota.

This fall, Schwarz is also offering an in-depth course on malting and brewing. Titled Barley and Malting Quality: A Field to Brewhouse Perspective, the course will be October 12-15. The Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences, the Northern Crops Institute and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas are partnering to offer the course. For more information, click here.

Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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