The North American malting barley industry has undergone some significant changes in the last quarter century. There has been a decline in the area planted to barley, particularly feed types, an increase in direct contracting with producers, and a shift toward two-row varieties.
The industry was founded on the production of six-rowed varieties. Early production was concentrated near the large brewing centers in the eastern half of the continent and growers found that the available six-row varieties performed best in these humid regions. Brewers too, favored these varieties which had quality attributes best suited to making the beer that the public was drinking.