Washington Barley Commission

Since its formation, the Washington Barley Commission (WBC) has been actively representing the barley industry.

Supporting the Future of the Barley Industry

Since its formation in 1985, the Washington Barley Commission (WBC) has been actively representing the barley industry. Through a small assessment (1% of the net proceeds) on each bushel of barley marketed in Washington, the funds collected are used to support research and market development.

Mission Statement

The Washington Barley Commission is a self-governing agency of the State of Washington that enhances the profitability of Washington barley growers. This is accomplished by:


Get to Know Your Commissioner

The WBC is comprised of eight commissioners, one representing each of the five growing districts and their associated counties, two representing allied industries, and one representing the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

District I Commissioner: Kurt Carstens, Reardan
Counties Representing: Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Pend O'reille, Okanogan, Spokane, Stevens

District II Commissioner: Steve Moore, Lacrosse
Counties Representing: Whitman

District III Commissioner: Perry Dozier, Waitsburg
Counties Representing: Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla

District IV Commissioner: Robert Walli, Ritzville
Counties Representing: Adams, Franklin, Kittitas, Klickitat, Yakima

District V Commissioner: Thomas G. Zwainz, Reardan
County Representing: Lincoln

Industry Representative: Shawn O'Connell, Columbia Grain Intl .

Industry Representative: Brad Loucks, Vancouver,
Great Western Malting

Ex-Officio: Bob Gore, Department of Agriculture

Mary Palmer Sullivan, Administrator
Maggie Wellman, Administrative Assistant


The WBC concentrates 40% of its present budget towards research. The research direction has been divided into two different areas: 1) production research and 2) market research.

Production Research
The WBC supports research which will increase yields by developing varieties with the genetic potential for superior production and built-in resistance to profit-robbing insects and diseases.

Marketing Research
The WBC also values the end-users of barley. Approximately 90% of Washington barley is used for feed. In highly competitive Western U.S. feed markets, buyers purchase grains based on their perceived feed value. The WBC funds research that will promote barley as an ingredient in feed and food and/or develop markets for Washington Barley.


The WBC's budget directed towards marketing is divided into two different areas: 1) Domestic Marketing and 2) Foreign Marketing.

Domestic Marketing
With most of the barley grown in Washington being used for animal feed, a great deal of the marketing that is being done has been concentrated into the feed industry channels.

The WBC has utilized the research data on the nutritional value of barley, and has made great strides to incorporate the revised barley nutritional data into the feed conversion charts as well as trying to develop an effective promotional campaign that would reach all potential feed buyers.

Foreign Marketing
With its excellent geographical location and transportation infrastructure, Washington is in an ideal position to service emerging world feed grain markets. The WBC has developed a close working relationship with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in promoting the international usage of U.S. barley. Through effective programs, the USGC has been responsible for an increase in barley exports.


Through a variety of ways, the WBC tries to inform the Washington barley industry, as well as outside sources, of it's successes and activities.


OUTLOOK a newsletter publication by the Washington Barley Commission is one avenue of communication where the WBC provides articles of interest about the barley industry. Other forms of communication include press releases that are sent to newspapers and agriculture publications throughout eastern Washington.

A quality survey is conducted every year when the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Grain and Commodity Inspection Service compiles and grades barley samples from throughout the state. The data is then published in report form, where the WBC takes it one step further and comprises a summary which is available to anyone who requests the information.

The WBC also sponsors a barley variety surveys which are completed each year through the USDA's Agriculture Statistics Service, and the American Malting Barley Association. The survey determines what barley varieties have been planted in Washington.

In addition, the WBC has developed publications which includes information that is relevant to livestock producers or end-users of barley, animal nutritionists, educators, consumers , as well as the Washington barley producer.

Grower Services

Through a number of activities, the WBC works to represent the barley grower on various issues and important events.

PNW Animal Nutrition Conference:
The WBC, along with the Idaho Barley Commission and the Oregon Grains Commission, recently sponsored this conference promoting the nutritional benefits of barley to animal nutritionists.

Spokane Ag Expo/Farm Forum:
The WBC participates as a room sponsor at the Spokane Ag Expo/Farm Forum which is held every January. The WBC selects speakers and topics relevant to the barley industry and they are featured throughout the three day event.

Barley Resource Guide:
The WBC has published a resource guide that will serve as a directory of contacts within the barley industry. These contacts may include barley growers, country elevators, feed processors, grain merchandisers, feedlots, dairies, etc. The guide will also include information regarding the current year's crop quality. This is available for free through , or by contacting our office.

Cooperative Efforts

The WBC is working with a variety of contacts to enhance existing programs. With cooperative efforts in research and marketing, we are utilizing barley grower's funds more efficiently. The WBC has enhanced the Washington barley producer's funding by obtaining matching funds for research and marketing efforts.

Through these programs we hope to encourage the flow of information while promoting the sales of barley, as well as to communicate our objectives to the barley producers.

Several organizations are involved with cooperative efforts with the WBC. They include:

Washington Barley Facts


Barley was first discovered growing as a wild grass throughout Asia thousands of years ago. It was later cultivated and consumed by the Chinese as one of their first commercially-grown commodities. Egyptians and Greeks in ancient times consumed barley for medicinal purposes as well as for a nourishing food source. It is thought that this grain made its way to North America with Christopher Columbus on his journey to the New World.

Where Barley Grows

Some barley is grown in every county in Washington State, however, the principal production acres are in the central and eastern portions of the state. The top five barley producing counties in Washington are Whitman, Lincoln, Spokane, Garfield, and Columbia.


Most Washington barley is grown on dryland (non-irrigated) grain farms. The majority of Washington barley 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 summerfallow farming areas. Under the summerfallow system, land is idled for a season to collect moisture then planted to barley or other crops. Irrigated barley accounts for less than 3% of the state's total production.

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.

Types of Barley

Most barley grown in Washington is spring barley which is planted in early spring and harvested in late summer. Less than 5% of the crop's acreage is planted to winter barley which is seeded in the early fall and harvested the following summer.

There are two types of barley grown in Washington: six-row and two-row.


In the six-row type, the barley kernels occur in groups of three on alternate sides of the head forming six rows of kernels.


In the two-row type, the barley kernels occur on alternate sides of the head, forming two rows of kernels.

Unlike wheat, barley kernels are surrounded by an attached fibrous hull.

Special varieties of barley have been developed which are hulless. Hulless barley is typically used in foods such as breakfast cereals and may have additional industrial uses.

Statewide Production

In 2003, Washington barley growers harvested 310,000 acres of barley which had an average yield of 47 bushels per acre (1.128 tons per acre). Total barley production for 2003 was 14.57 million bushels or 320,450 tons. Washington State is ranked fourth in the nation's top six barley - producing states. In addition, barley consistently ranks in the top 20 Washington commodities based on production value.

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 85% of the barley grown in Washington is used for feed.

Barley for Malt

Barley's second most important use is for malt. Malt is used in beer, liquor, malted milk and flavorings in a variety of foods. Washington-grown barley; which is used for malt, accounts for approximately 15% of the state's total production.

Malt is produced by germinating moistened barley under controlled conditions. The process begins by steeping or soaking the 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

Less than one percent of Washington-grown barley is used for human consumption. Barley may be purchased in several forms. Pearl barley, where the outer hull and part of the bran layer has been removed, is sold in most supermarkets. Barley flour, flakes, and grits may be found in 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!

Research Projects

Development of Resistance in Barley to Rhizoctonia Root Rot R. James Cook, Washington State University
Evaluation of Barley Varieties J. Burns, Washington State University
Molecular Marker Assisted Barley Breeding A. Kleinhofs, Washington State University
Control of Barley Stripe Rust X. Chen, Washington State University
Barley Improvement Program Research Technologist S.E. Ullrich and Michael J. Young, Washington State University
Barley Improvement for Yield, Adaptation and Quality S. E. Ullrich, Washington State University
Quality Characteristics of Barley required for its uses in various foods B. K. Baik, Washington State University