Thursday, July 29, 2010

Barleycorn among the wheat

There is a field of wheat this year down at the bottom of our hill. Well, it's mostly wheat. There are some weeds and wildflowers growing among the uniform stalks of wheat. But there's also something else. When I got home from a recent walk and looked at my pictures, I noticed that there were two distinct kinds of grain growing in the field.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think this is barley among the wheat.

Most of it is wheat. I checked that out on the internet to be sure that what I was seeing was indeed wheat. But that grain you see above is not wheat; I think it's barley. Barley has those characteristic long straws projecting from each grain whereas wheat does not.

According to Wikipedia, France is the fifth largest wheat producer in the world after China, India, the US, and Russia. That makes sense, given all the bread and pastry baking that goes on here, although much of Europe's wheat production is exported to developing countries. France is also the fifth largest producer of barley after Russia, Canada, Spain, and Germany. That also follows considering that barley is used in beer making. Both grains are also used for animal feed, but I don't know how much in France.

So how does a little barley get mixed in with a crop of wheat? I don't know, but I can speculate! It may be left over from a previous crop or it may just be that the seed that farmers buy is not necessarily pure and a few grains of something else make their way in. I tend to think it's the latter.

7 comments:

  1. I think it will be the former - a volunteer from last year, or even the year before.

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  2. I think it's the latter. A little seed cross-contamination at the seed factory doesn't hurt anything and no one worries about it (except a curious man with a camera!)

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  3. Regardless, makes for a beautiful shot.

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  4. I think it's the guy who comes at 4:00 a.m. to turn around in your neighbor's driveway... clearly, he came earlier in the season and threw random seeds out into the air to confuse everyone in the area and throw them off his trail once he started his mission of driving around rural roads in the middle of the night to turn around where he shouldn't.

    heh heh :))

    Judy

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  5. Re: early morning car, whether it's 4am or 5am.
    I think you and Ken should get up at the appropriate hour one morning and form a human road block and ask this person, face to face, exactly what he thinks he is doing. After all, it does wake you up every day and that's not good for your health.
    And, being very nosey by nature, I really need to know what's going on here !!!

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  6. Isn't barley used in making beer?

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  7. susan, that certainly wouldn't surprise me.

    cubby, I don't know much about how seeds are produced and packaged for farmers, but it's certainly a possiblity.

    rick, thanks!

    judy, ah, a third theory!

    jean, we'll think about it. ;)

    starman, I believe so.

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