Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a type of cereal grain. It is derived from wild barley, which currently still grows in the Middle East. Barley is a member of the grass family, just like wheat, oats, rye, millet and rice. Germinating barley (malt) is an important raw material for beer and whiskey. Barley is an annual plant with 50 to 130 cm stems and a spike-shaped inflorescence. Barley grows in both subtropical and temperate climates. In the north, the area of barley crops reaches all the way to the Arctic Circle. Barley is widely cultivated as a fodder crop and ingredient for beer. The varieties are categorised as winter barley and summer barley. Winter barley is sown in October and must be winter hardy. Summer barley is sown from mid-February.