If I were to grow barley, is there a known ratio for pounds of malted grain per square feet of planted crop?


Someone from twitter posted this: http://www.gardensofeden.org/04%20Crop%20Yield%20Verification.htm


Crop yields vary vastly depending on soil conditions, amount of rainfall, fertilization, pest control, etc. On my family's farm, there are places where the wheat grows tall and thick, and less than 10 feet away, plants are so thin and sparse that it would almost be better to let that area go fallow.

In any case, crop yields for barley tend to range between 5 and 40 bushels per acre. Here in Colorado, that number is typically around 25 bushels/acre.

Converting this to pounds per square foot isn't exact - a bushel is a unit of volume. Healthy barley will be more dense than unhealthy barley, but farmers shoot for 48 pounds per bushel in barley harvests. Using that figure, you'd be looking at .027 pounds per square foot.

If you were doing this in your backyard, and were committing more resources (water, fertilizer, time) than what a typical farmer invests, you might be able to see twice that amount. This would mean that to harvest enough barley for a 5-gallon brew, you'd still need around 200 square feet of land.

  • That is really low yield. 5 bushels per acre? Better off making strawbales.
    – user8359
    Oct 23 '14 at 0:24

Homebrew legend Dan Listermann has written about his barley growing experience in Ohio. He harvested 10% as much as he planted! Keep in mind that if you grow barley, you have to malt it. It's not too hard to make crappy malt, but it's really hard to make good malt. If someone is thinking of growing and malting their own barley, they should do it for the experience, not for the malt.

  • Wow malting sounds so simple on the surface. Is the variance really that great? Mar 31 '11 at 23:18

1 acre is 43,264 square feet, which is a plot measuring 208' x 208'. Brandon's math is correct at 25 bushels per acre weighing 48 lbs each. Using his crop estimates you can expect between 0.0055 to 0.0441 lbs/sq ft. That's why farmers use bushels per acre.

I'll be growing a 12 sqft plot of barley this spring and will be happy to yield 1 lb of grain.


another stab at the math. thanks @TMN

an acre is 43264 ft sq. if we calculate for the least successful amount of 5 bushels per acre. at the expected weight of 45 lbs of barley per bushel

(5/43264)*45 = 0.0052 lbs of barley per sq ft.

this seems really on the low side.

this fellow claims he got one 330ml finished beer per sq ft at the gravity he was targeting. https://brewingbeerthehardway.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/one-beer-per-square-foot/

his yield was 32 lbs in 226 sq ft.He made 4 5 gal batches at 8 lbs of grain batch. that 0.142 lbs per sq ft. 2 orders of magnitude more than the other number.

  • An acre is actually 43,560 square feet. A lot of the houses in my neighborhood are on quarter-acre lots, it'd be hard to get a house on only 50 square feet!
    – TMN
    Apr 15 '16 at 17:00
  • ha you're right of course. ill fix my answer. an acre is about 208 lineal ft. 208*208 = 43264
    – Ryan Day
    Apr 16 '16 at 18:08

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