After last week I thought I had better keep closer watch over our area. Those red flags seem to be getting shorter or the wheat is getting taller. We had a brief shower last evening. It rained only 0.04 of an inch. Can you see the paler green area in this picture? Lets look closer at our row.
The plants are getting taller, as you might have suspected. Notice the tips of the leaves are pale green to yellowish. Thats Barley Yellow Dwarf, the viral disease that is carried by aphids. I mentioned earlier in the year that I thought we didnt have any Barley Yellow Dwarf in our row, well I was wrong. We certainly have a touch of it. But theres something else we need to notice about our plants. Can you see the swollen stems? What are those things sticking out of the stem? Well, this is what weve been waiting for. The wheat heads are starting to emerge? As you can see, we have plants in various stages of heading. Heading is the term we use to indicate the growing point, which is the head, is now visible. (The head is often called a spike and in Europe it is called an ear.) Lets look closer at individual plants.
|This is a plant in the boot stage. (Dont ask me why it is called the boot stage. It just is! Maybe its because it looks like the top of a tight-fitting boot over someones calf.) The stem is swollen between the second leaf and the flag leaf because the head is there. The head is almost its full length and it will soon emerge. Look up at the flag leaf and can you see those thin, thread-like things coming out of the whorl of the flag leaf? Those are called awns and those are attached to the head.|
|This is a little closer picture of the awns. They are attached to florets where the wheat kernels will form (but that wont be for a while).|
|I split the stem of the one we were just looking at to see the wheat head inside. Remember, this plant is still in the boot stage. Because it was still inside the flag leaf sheath the head is lime green. As the head emerges it will be a darker green. Now, you can see where the awns are attached.|
|This head is splitting the flag leaf sheath open and it is starting to emerge. By tomorrow this head will be partially emerged. It takes several days before the head will be completely emerged from the flag leaf.|