Madhu Patial and K.K.Pramanick
ICAR-IARI, Regional Station, Shimla (H.P-171004)

 Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is one of the most sacred traditional cereals cultivated by man. The crop is hardy and well adapted to problematic soils. Cultivation of barley in India, takes place in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Chhatishgarh and Sikkim. Among these states, Rajasthan occupies the highest area and production followed by U.P. and Haryana. However, maximum productivity of barley occurs in the Haryana.

Barley is an important cereal because of its wide adaptability to different climatic and soil conditions and its suitability for varied uses. Originally, barley was mainly cultivated and used for human food but now besides providing grain, barley has enormous potential for fodder and is fast emerging as promising crop for dual purpose. Barley is now used primarily for animal feed and to produce malt, with smaller amount used for seed and direct human consumption.

In India, there is scarcity of animal feed i.e. dry fodder by 31%, green fodder by 23% and concentrate feed by 47%. Since barley has fast growth habit and produces, high biomass at early stage with limited inputs and water. Hence, barley can be utilized as a source of green fodder in rainfed, arid to semiarid conditions where other fodder crops like barseem, oats, sugarcane etc. cannot be grown. During winters, there is an acute shortage of green fodder so, barley can be utilized as green fodder with very limited water supply or less rainfall in these areas. Since both the green forage and grain can be utilized for animal fodder/ feed purposes, the crop can be advantageous over oats, because of its dual utilization, faster early growth as well as less water requirement. So, barley can provide important nutrition to the livestock as its straw is an excellent source of cellulosic ethanol feedstock.

Dual purpose barley provides nutrition rich green fodder for the livestock at the time of scarcity and at the same time also provides acceptable quality grain for human consumption. The marginal farmers would prefer to grow barley varieties giving high forage yield for their livestock and food grain for human consumption, as it ia an outstanding source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Dual purpose barley varieties can be given one cut at 50- 55 DAS in plains under irrigated conditions and 70-75 DAS in hills under rainfed conditions. Cutting at early stage provides good quality fodder during lean period (mid December to mid January) for feeding to the animals. After harvesting for fodder, the grains are obtained from regenerated crop without any yield plenty’s. 

Himachal Pradesh situated in the North-Western part of Himalaya have total geographical area of 55.67 lakh hectares with agriculture and horticulture are major economic activities. About 81 per cent of the total cultivated area in the state is rainfed. As compared to the county’s productivity, the state has very low productivity of cereal. In the hilly terrain of Himachal Pradesh, the land holdings are small, scattered and thus difficult to manage. Even mechanization becomes difficult with small land holdings. Beside cultivation in slopes, shallow soils, limited irrigation, use of limited inputs and quality seeds, and improper management of production are also hurdles for increased agricultural output. In addition, the dissemination of suitable and practical technologies which are available have not received due emphasis in the state. The number of farm animals per household has also decreased which is linked to the shortage of fodder. This is posing a challenge in the availability of farmyard manures, particularly on vegetable and fruit based systems. The fodder scarcity is further aggravated with the decrease in number and area of grazing lands, infestation of pastures with obnoxious weeds and more thrust on vegetable cultivation. The state is still producing the crops based on the knowledge transmitted to them by their ancestor leading to a grossly unscientific cultivation. Because of this, they often fail to achieve the desired potential yield of different crops and new varieties. Barley is the staple food crop in the tribal areas of hills where it is also used in preparation of local beverage in addition to food and cattle feed. It is predominantly grown under rainfed conditions in the northern hills and farmers use very low inputs. During past few years, winters have become warmer in hills and drought is becoming a frequent phenomenon. Therefore, most of the farmers now prefer to grow barley to other crops and grow barley in apple orchards mainly for utilization as green forage.

For Northern Hills, a dual purpose barley variety BHS 380 (Pusa Losar) has been released by Central Variety Release Committee in 2010 having following important features:

Name of Barley Variety

BHS 380


Northern Hill Zone

Production condition

Timely sown, rainfed

Year of release


Released by CVRC/SVRC

Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards

Developed by

IARI, Regional Station, (CHC), Amartara Cottage, Tutikandi Centre, Shimla

Plant height (cm)

60 cm

Days to maturity (days)

182 days

1000-grain weight (g)

35 g

Average yield (q/ha)

Forage yield = 59.4 q/ha

 Grain yield = 21.0 q/ha

Average Potential yield (q/ha)

Forage yield = 89.7q/ha

 Grain yield = 29.8q/ha

Special Feature: BHS 380 is resistant to leaf and stripe rust along with blight and powdery mildew.  

Cultivation of Pusa Losar (BHS 380) will be a boon to the farmers of Himachal Pradesh as it will fulfill the need of food and fodder both and will sustain barley production in the Hills.