Barley Tillering And Heading Information – Learn About Barley Heads And Tillers

Tall Barley Growing
(Image credit: waldenstroem)

If you are thinking of growing barley in your home garden, you’ll need to learn about barley tillering and heading. Understanding barley heads and tillers are essential to growing this cereal crop. What are barley tillers? What is a barley head? Those just getting started with growing grains should read on to learn the ins and outs of tillering and heading of barley plants.

About Barley Heads and Tillers

To raise a good crop of barley, you need to understand how the cereal crop grows and the stages of barley development. The agricultural chemicals on the market today for barley only work if applied during specific barley growth stages.

Both barley heads and tillers are parts of the barley plant. Their appearance signals new stages of barley plant growth.

What are Barley Tillers?

It is correct to say that tillers signal a stage of growth of the barley plant. But that is not enough to explain the term. What are barley tillers exactly? They are independent lateral branches on the grass plant. They emerge from the soil, not from another stem.

Tiller growth is essential to a barley crop since each tiller is independent and can produce a seed-bearing flower, increasing your cereal yield. However, you only want vigorous tillers, since unproductive tillers (often those appearing late in the season) use up nutrients without increasing grain production.

Barley tiller development is said to have three different stages. The first is bud initiation, followed by bud development, and finally the growth of the bud into a tiller.

What is a Barley Head?

So, what is a barley head? Barley heads are also very important to your hopes for a barley crop since this is the part of the plant that develops and carries the cereal.

When gardeners talk about barley tillering and heading, they are referring to the plant process of producing lateral branches (tillers) and grain clusters (heads.) The process of heading in barley starts when the first tip of the flower is visible.

It is during heading that the plant develops the inflorescence from which the grain grows. When heading is done, grain fill on the barley is begun.

The longer it takes for the inflorescence to emerge, the more grain you will get from the plant. After heading comes the pollination of the flower. This is when grain fill is completed.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.