Barley growth guide
The aim of this guide is to enable barley growers to identify where production may be falling short of potential.
To manage crops effectively, it is important to set targets, assess progress, adjust inputs and monitor success. Our barley growth guidance outlines the main crop growth stages and components of yield, as well as the opportunities for management.
Introduction to barley growth and benchmarks
The growth stages of cereals
It is useful to break down the cereal life cycle into various growth stages. By understanding the main crop development stages, it becomes easier to measure crop performance and informs husbandry choices.
Key development phases and growth stages in barley
As barley progresses through its life cycle, the crop changes in form (development) and accumulates dry matter (growth). Discover how these changes can be described by key cereal growth stages and developmental phases.
How to use benchmarks to assess cereal growth
Measurements are vital to good management and for learning. As well as assessing weeds, pests and diseases, managers must assess the cereal plant itself. Crop progress, structure and final performance can then be compared with benchmarks (where available) or new targets.
Natural resource capture and conversion by cereals
Discover how wheat and barley capture and convert natural resources (solar energy, carbon dioxide and water) into edible (e.g. grain) and other forms of biomass/energy.
Establishment in barley (germination and emergence)
From the seed, to its germination and emergence, these first phases establish the barley crop and determine plant populations. Learn how to optimise these early growth stages, which are particularly critical in barley.
Leaf emergence and tillering growth stages in barley
The production of leaves and tillers (side shoots) is an essential part of canopy development. Careful management is needed to optimise and protect these structures to help maximise barley yields.
How to promote and measure root growth
Ensuring that wheat and barley crops have well-developed root systems is essential for optimum water and nutrient capture. An understanding of the factors that influence root growth makes it easier to identify management interventions.
Nitrogen supply and demand in barley
Unless adequate nitrogen (N) is made available, shoot numbers and yield will be restricted in barley. However, the nutrient needs to be managed carefully to reduce the risk of excess grain nitrogen concentrations and nitrate leaching.
How to measure plant populations, nitrogen uptake and dry matter in cereals
An estimate of cereal plant populations and growth (in a quadrat) will indicate if targets have been met. Use this information to guide in-season crop management decisions and future strategy (e.g. seed rates).
Management of canopy expansion and senescence in barley
Canopy size determines the proportion of sunlight intercepted, which drives the accumulation of dry matter. Learn how to manage canopy growth and lifespan to help maximise barley yields.
How to measure growth area index (GAI) in cereals
The crop’s green area index (GAI) is the ratio of green leaf and stem area to the area of ground on which the crop is growing. Use measurements of GAI during the growing season, alongside targets, to guide canopy management.
Biomass growth and dry matter accumulation in barley
Biomass growth represents the net effect of photosynthesis, after losses from respiration and leaf fall. It can be assessed by measuring changes in above-ground dry matter over time.
Measurement of stem extension and stem reserves in barley
Careful management of cereals is essential to help the crop reach its optimum height and minimise lodging risks. Learn about the main-stem benchmarks and how stem reserves provide significant amounts of carbohydrates to filling grains.
Ear formation, grain development and crop ripening in barley
Capacity for grain filling is set by grain number per unit area and the storage capacity of each grain. Satisfying the capacity depends on photosynthesis, as well as the redistribution of stem reserves.
The main components of yield in barley
From the number of ears to the weight of individual grains, this page outlines the main components of barley yields. It also includes the main yield benchmarks.
Highly heritable barley quality traits
Some quality characteristics, such as nitrogen concentration, specific weight and screenings, are highly heritable in barley. Learn about the genetic (varietal) and other factors that affect these traits, as well as the typical market specifications.
Cereal growth guide: a glossary of terms
From anthesis to xylem, cereal growth is described with a wide array of terms. Some of the most commonly used are outlined in this glossary.
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