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The Calendar Says November, So Why Are We Planting Barley?

Forget what you were told about spring being planting season and fall being the season of the harvest. While all that is correct, it’s not entirely true.


Fall seeding begins when we’re done breaking up the soil and leveling the field.
Fall seeding begins when we’re done breaking up the soil and leveling the field.

At Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon, we’re wrapping up planting our 100 acres of Risk™ malting barley.

Risk™ is a winter variety of malting barley. It needs cold weather to properly germinate. So we plant it in the fall and let it sit dormant during winter. The first shoots will emerge in a couple of weeks.

Shoots emerge around mid-November, but won’t grow any taller for another four to five months.
Shoots emerge around mid-November, but won’t grow any taller for another four to five months.

The barley resumes growing next spring. But if we waited until then to plant? The crop would fail. A spring planting is too warm for a hardy grain like our Risk™ malting barley.

Plowing is the first step in preparing a field for planting barley.
Plowing is the first step in preparing a field for planting barley.

Elsewhere at Rogue Farms, we’re plowing, discing and harrowing the fields where we’ll plant next year’s crop of Dare™ malting barley. Dare™ is a spring variety and like the name implies, grows best when we plant it in March and April.

But we can’t wait until spring to plow, disc and harrow. That’s six weeks worth of chores, and there’s not enough time from when the snow melts until the soil is warm enough to drill in the seeds. So we do as much of that as possible in the fall, to save us time in the spring.

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Here’s what things are going to look like around here in a few weeks.

To the left, a field of Risk™ malting barley. To the right, the field where we’ll seed our Dare™ malting barley next year.
To the left, a field of Risk™ malting barley. To the right, the field where we’ll seed our Dare™ malting barley next year.

There’s not much we can do now for our malting barley except hope for plenty of snow. As much as our Risk™ barley likes cold weather, it’s possible for temperatures to get too cold around here. A few inches of snow covers the shoots like a blanket and insulates them when temperatures dip into the teens.

We’re on our new winter hours at Rogue Farms in Independence. While this is a slower time of year, there’s always something going on, and we have plenty of beer, ciders and sodas to enjoy. Head on over and see how we Grow The Revolution during all seasons!

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