Ethiopian Barley in New Mexico

Although Ethiopia's barley is all but unknown elsewhere, at least one overseas group has attempted to grow it, and with considerable success. In the dry southwestern quarter of the United States, the Ghost Ranch, a facility sponsored by the Presbyterian church, has been growing it as one of its main cereal crops since 1983. Following are comments by the farm's manager. The photograph was taken after the 1991 harvest.

We grow Ethiopian barley at our experimental farm in the northern mountains of New Mexico. We grow it for three main reasons: it matures quickly (about 110 days); it is hull-less; and it is the most drought-tolerant grain we've ever had. In addition, it has been almost trouble free. We've never experienced a problem with lodging. The plant tillers very well and produces good yields in most years. We haven't had any problems with disease, which might be only because our farm is isolated and the nearest barley grower is about 50 km away.

We thresh the dry grain in a small homemade threshing machine or an old combine employed as a stationary thresher. It threshes easily. The seed is then cleaned in a seed-cleaning machine. (Both the threshing machine and the seed cleaner run off our solar electric system.) The grain mills nicely and produces a flour that has good baking and eating qualities.

Lynda S. Prim

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