Growth Stages of Wheat and Barley

Here is a brief glossary of terms with pictures that can be viewed by clicking on the link. An archived NDSU Extension Pest Report contains some additional information.

Anthesis - see flowering
Berry stage - see watery ripe
Boot - The grain head, the next structure to appear after flag leaf emergence, is said to be in the boot when it swells within the flag leaf sheathe. The boot stage is complete when the awns become visible at the flag leaf collar and the sheath is forced open by the developing head.
Flagging - The final leaf to emerge is called the flag leaf.  This stage is considered complete once the collar is visible.
Flowering - Fertilization of the ovary by pollen.  In wheat, pollination proceeds from the middle up and down the head.  Flowering (pollination) may occur before head emergence in barley depending on cultivar.
Heading - Heading occurs as the head emerges from the flag leaf collar.
Jointing - Stem elongation or jointing occurs as a result of internode elongation. Usually a plant has five to six
leaves on the main shoot when internode elongation first begins.
Milk stage - When the kernel is pressed, a milky white fluid appears.
Tillering - Spring cereals usually develop about three branch shoots called tillers after the third leaf has emerged on the main stem.
Watery ripe - Grain development begins after flowering is complete.  The kernel enlarges and contains a clear, watery fluid.



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Last Updated: March 24, 2008
Published by North Dakota State University
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