About Washington Barley

Most barley grown in Washington is spring barley which is planted in early spring and harvested in late summer.
In 2023, Washington barley growers harvested 84,000 acres of barley which had an average yield of 53 bushels per acre (1.15 metric tons per acre). Total barley production for 2023 was 4.45 million bushels or 96,885 metric tons. Washington State is ranked sixth among the nation’s top barley-producing states.
GMO Free Badge

No GMO barley

Unlike corn, which is the dominant grain used to feed livestock in the U.S., there is no genetically engineered barley for sale in the U.S. Some cattle feeders exploit a niche by using barley as feed, rather than corn, to ensure a GMO-free designation for their product.

Types of Barley

Barley for Malt

Malt is used in beer, liquor, malted milk and flavorings in a variety of foods. It is the second largest use of barley, accounting for about 10 percent of the state’s production total.
The malting process begins under controlled conditions by steeping or soaking barley in large tanks under water for two days to absorb moisture and begin germination. The wet grain is moved to large climate-controlled compartments where it is allowed to germinate for four days. The barley is transferred to kilns for drying, which takes approximately 40 hours. The finished product is called malt which is typically sold to breweries and other food processors.
Barley malt flour is an ingredient in nearly all baking flours that are used to make breads and other baked goods.

Barley for Food

Although less than 1 percent of Washington-grown barley is used for human consumption, its profile is growing as a heart healthy ingredient. Food barley may be purchased as pearled barley. Where the outer hull and part of the bran layer has been removed, or as barley flour and flakes. Barley grits are also available. All can be found either in supermarkets or health food and specialty stores.
Barley is also used as a commercial ingredient in prepared foods such as breakfast cereals, soups, pilaf mixes, breads, cookies, crackers and snack bars. By checking the ingredient label of food products, you may find that you have been eating barley all along!

Barley for Feed

Barley is primarily used for animal feed. It is fed to beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and poultry. In most cases, the whole barley kernel is rolled, ground, or flaked, prior to being fed. Approximately 90 precent of the barley grown in Washington is used for feed.

Where WASHINGTON Barley Grows

The principal production barley acres in Washington are in the eastern and central portions of the state. The top five barley producing counties in Washington are Whitman, Lincoln, Spokane, Columbia and Garfield.
Most Washington barley is grown on dryland (non-irrigated) grain farms. The majority of Washington’s barley is produced in continuous cropping areas where rainfall is sufficient for a crop to be grown every year. Very little of the state’s barley is produced in summer fallow farming areas. Under the summer fallow system, land is idled for a season to collect moisture then planted to barley or other crops.
Barley grows well in cool, dry conditions. As a result, U.S. barley production is concentrated in the Northern Plain states and the Pacific Northwest.
WGC 2020 Barley Map

Barley & Algae Control

Keepings Ponds Clear Naturally

Having issues with algae growth on your pond? A natural solution is barley! While chemicals and other solutions are harmful to desired plants and wildlife, going through the process of applying barley straw to your pond will keep surrounding plants and animals safe, while getting rid of invasive algae. 

WASHINGTON Barley Production

Get the most recent annual reporting on Washington barley production volumes.


Discover more about Washington’s Preferred Barley Variety quality rankings and find the current quality reports.

Partnerships & Exports

Get information on bulk wheat purchasing from and exports from Washington’s barley suppliers and their national partners.

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