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pollen has landed on the tip of the silk it will travel all the way down the tube and fertilize a kernel of grain. Pollination will finish two weeks after the plant has reached its mature height. With all of its kernels fertilized the plant works to add mass to them. At the beginning, they will be size of a pen tip; at maturity, the kernel will be the size of a fingernail. During kernel development the plant continues to collect nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun. After another 10 weeks the kernels will begin reaching maturity. At this time the kernels will start to lose moisture and the plant will turn brown and dry as fall approaches. Once the kernels reach 15 percent moisture a farmer will harvest the plant, removing the kernels and placing them in storage to be used at a later date. The other most common grains used in spirits are barley, wheat, and rye, which often start their lives in the fall of the year. These three grains are used in different ways and accomplish different things when distilling, but their life cycles are very similar to each other. Barley, wheat, and rye are most often planted in the fall in a field where a spring planted crop, such as corn or soybeans, has already been harvested. The seed will then sprout quickly in the warm soil. Like corn, a tender start of a fibrous root system will emerge first, quickly followed by a sprouting leaf that works its way towards the sun. In the limited growing season provided by the fall, above ground a small plant roughly the size of your palm and four to six inches tall will develop. Farmers aspire to plant barley, wheat, and rye after the first frosty night, but six weeks before continuously freezing nights which cause plants to enter into hibernation. Once hibernation-inducing weather arrives, the vegetative growth will stop until spring. However, below ground the plants develop a large fibrous root system that grows throughout the winter. By the time spring comes, the roots may be 30 inches deep, even though above ground the plant may still only be six inches tall. These roots will provide the wheat plant with the necessary nutrients and moisture to grow at a feverish pace once warm weather returns in the spring. Initially the plants will develop more leaves so as to collect more sunlight. Once an adequate amount of energy has been collected, plants will shift to growing tall erect stalks. There will be roughly four weeks from the time plants exit hibernation until they begin growing the grain-bearing stalks. Each plant originating from a single seed will produce between two and six stalks, depending on how good the growing conditions are. The stalks of the barley, wheat, or rye plants will grow to their final height of roughly 36 inches in four to six weeks. At the top of the stalks will be a leaf called the flag leaf. The stalk grows beyond the leaf where the grain head is developed. The flag leaf is important for determining the final yield of the plant. If it is lost to hail, insects or disease WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.