The last chilly days are now well behind us, with temperatures at night being in the 60sF. Besides growing wheat/barley those in the Northern half of Texas can plant many vegetables right now such as corn, soybeans, peanuts, sunflowers, tomatoes, and more. Our garden has been quite filled in now with many vegetables growing or just beginning to finish up. The wheat and barley are beginning to seed out and enter the final stages of their life cycle.
The barley patch has reached “Head Emergence” stage, with the grain peaking out of stalks that are varying between 1 foot to 2 feet high. The earliest planted barley had grain emerge first, while the later planted only started coming out this last week or so. Each plant has at least four to five grain heads, but I also made an error and some of what I thought was barley turned out to be stray wheat growing in the patch. Oops! Not ideal, but not a big deal either. More careful planting will handle that concern next time.
The spikes of barley are very prickly with the numerous awns on each head. It has been a good defense mechanism against wandering birds. This barley is also a 6 row barley type, though the number of rows is more of a concern for those who brew barley into alcohol. Our goal is to save some seed for more plantings next year by selecting the plants with good spike number, good height, and plump seeds. The remaining seeds will be used for personal consumption, either a barley dish if there is enough, or a barley miso.
The wheat has emerged later than the barley, having only just begun to head out. Compared to last year, the amount of leaf coverage from the plants has decreased, the height is shorter, and the heads smaller. It is possible we did not water the wheat enough during the growth.
The wheat lacks awns like the barley above, but so far has not had any pest concerns from birds or squirrels. Compared to last year, the size of the grain head is smaller, perhaps due to the lack of moisture over the winter and spring growing season. It is also possible this wheat is adapting to being grown. We found this wheat growing on the side of our road, and collected some seeds when it was mature. We would like to grow this variety and a soft wheat variety in the future to make some custom mixed flour. Until then, we will select the best seeds to keep and propagate further, and remaining seed will be fed to the sheep as a treat.
The next Grow-A-Along may be at the tail-end of maturity for the wheat, with the barley likely finished, we shall see what happens next month!