Multi-use naked barley for organic systems: This project has been supported by a series of USDA-NIFA-OREI grants. We are currently on Cycle III, which will run from 2023-2027. See more at the eOrganic multi-use barley web page.

Rationale and goal:

Organic growers need new crops, markets, and rotation options supported by varieties that are developed specifically for organic conditions. The long-term goal of this research project is to provide organic gardeners, growers, processors, and consumers with an alternative crop, food, and raw material that will be economically rewarding and sustainable.


Throughout this project we have been screening available naked (hull-less) varieties and experimental germplasm and have created a framework for breeding the next generation of varieties with modest levels of β-glucan that will meet FDA guidelines for soluble fiber in human diets, and also be suitable for feed use and brewing.

Development, assessment, and participatory breeding of naked multi-use barley is being conducted in five representative regions: the West Coast (OR, CA), Upper Midwest (MN, WI) and Northeast (NY). Several classes of germplasm will be used:

  • The Oregon Naked Barley Blend, which is targeted to K-12 students and home gardeners
  • A large diversity panel to apply genetic data to improve barley for organic systems
  • Multi-regional trials to identify varieties for release
  • A modified nested association mapping panel to use genomic selection for developing new varieties 

In this project, we have been assessing germplasm under organic conditions in school and home gardens, university research stations, and on-farm trials. We are working to evaluate agronomic, food, feed, malting, and brewing performance. Workshops are held to educate stakeholders on best management practices and processing procedures. We have quantified the economic and environmental benefits of organic naked barley production and products. Our outreach efforts work to familiarize students, gardeners, growers, processors, and consumers with the benefits of naked barley varieties and provide guidance for capitalizing on the advantages these varieties can offer.

Read the full project narrative here.

See our webinar on eOrganic giving some background on multi-use naked barley here

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