Facts About Grains
corn / oats /
rye / sorghum / triticale / wheat
is the fourth most important grain crop in the United States.
is one of the most ancient of cultivated grains. It
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.
found in pits and pyramids in Egypt indicate that barley
was cultivated there more than 5000 years ago. The
most ancient glyph or pictograph found for barley is dated
about 3000 B.C. Numerous references to barley are found
in the earliest Egyptian and Sumerian writings.
Egyptians and Greeks in ancient times
consumed barley for medicinal purposes as well as for a nourishing
may have brought barley to North America on his journey to
the New World.
Half or more of the
barley grown in the United States is used for livestock
feed. As feed it is nearly equal in nutritive value to
kernel corn. It is especially valuable as hog feed, giving
desirable portions of firm fat and lean meat. The entire
kernel is used in feed, generally after grinding or steam
rolling. Malt sprouts from malting as well as brewers grain--byproducts
of brewing--are also valuable livestock feeds. Barley is also
grown as a hay crop in some areas.
for human food is made into pearl barley. Barley flour, flakes,
and grits may be found in health food and specialty stores.
also used as a commercial ingredient in prepared foods such
as breakfast cereals, soups, pilaf mixes, breads, cookies,
crackers and snack bars.
Barley malt flour is
an ingredient in nearly all baking flours that are used
make breads and other baked goods
Oats are a cereal grain
used primarily as food for livestock, especially horses.
In Oklahoma most of the oats planted are used for either pasture or baled for
hay. Most goes to feed the
state's equine population.
A now obsolete Middle English name for oats was haver,
which survives in the name of the livestock feeding bag haversack.
The plants make excellent
straw, and the hulls are a source of the chemical furfural,
used as an industrial solvent.
Only about 5 percent
of oats are consumed by humans, chiefly in the
form of rolled oats or oatmeal for breakfast foods. Oats
do not contain the glutenous type of protein necessary
for making bread
Quaker Oats, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the largest cereal
company in the world.
The early history of
oats is obscure, but domestication is considered to be
recent compared to that of the other grains–perhaps
c.2500 During the Bronze Age, the time when horses were first
used as draft animals, oats were widely grown in N Europe
but were apparently still uncultivated by the civilizations
around the Mediterranean.
Theophrastus and Pliny
believed that oats were a diseased form of wheat.
Oats were once considered
a weed which grew with barley and wheat.
Oats were introduced into the
Americas in 1602 by a sea captain who planted them in one
of the islands off the coast of Massachusetts.
Acreage planted to
rye in Oklahoma is primarily used as pasture for the state's
large cattle industry. However, Oklahoma is usually the
top producing state in rye grain production. Rye harvested
for grain in Oklahoma usually totals over a million bushels.
Much of this grain is used as seed to replant next year's
crop or is shipped out-of-state by the seed industry.
Cereal rye is an erect
annual grass with greenish blue, flat blades and an extensive
fibrous root system. It resembles wheat, but usually is taller
(3 5 ft) and tillers less.
rye is the most winter-hardy of all cereal grains,
enduring temperatures as low as -30°F once established.
It can germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 33°F;
however, optimal temperatures are much higher.
Cereal rye tolerates
drought better than do the other cereal grains, in part
because of its extensive root system. It grows best with
ample moisture, but excessive moisture during the fall
and winter suppresses vegetative growth.
Cereal rye may be used
as a cover crop, grain, hay, or pasture.
is a cross between wheat and rye. Although wheat-rye hybrids
date back to 1875, it was only in 1953 that the first North
American triticale breeding program was initiated, at the
University of Manitoba.
Triticale grains, flours,
and prepared products are available through both health
food and commercial outlets on a limited basis.
has a savory, nutty flavor and is often included in
prepared mixed-grain hot and cold cereals, muffin flours, pancake
mixes and crackers.
Poland, Germany, China,
and France account for nearly 90 percent of world triticale
In the US and globally,
triticale is used primarily for livestock feed.
In Mexico, triticale
is used mostly for whole-grain tricale breads and tortillas.
Triticale is a desirable
plant for use in the production of Ethanol because
it has high starch content and
no hull, making alcohol production more efficient.
to Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom
Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma
Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture,
Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.