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Environment & Climate Change

Century-old barley strain could soon find its way into your pint glass

Decades after falling from popularity, Spartan barley returns with the help of MSU researchers.
Courtesy of Ashley McFarland
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Decades after falling from popularity, Spartan barley returns with the help of MSU researchers.

Michigan’s local food movement has brought heirloom plants back into the spotlight, making for the perfect time to bring back a century-old barley strain.

Developed in 1916 by an MSU professor, “Spartan” barley is now making a comeback with the help of a team of the school's researchers.

Ashley McFarland is the coordinator for the university’s Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. She told Stateside that bringing back the strain could draw interest from the state’s craft brewing industry.

“The market is really asking for it.” McFarland said. “We know we can grow the barley [and] we know we have a demand for it.”

At its peak, one-third of Nebraska’s malting barley crop was made up of Spartan barley, McFarland added.

She joined Stateside to talk about the history of Spartan barley, and how researchers were able to bring it back to Michigan.

GUEST Ashley McFarland is the coordinator for Michigan State University's Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center.

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunesGoogle Play, or with this RSS link)

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