The non-barley part of the farm was plowed under to prepare for corn:
This gave me a chance to see some of the plants I haven't been able to get to for about a month now. (You can see the old net fence, designed to deter guinea fowl, completely grown into by the stand. Oops!)
In this part of the field, I was glad to see a bunch of late unfilled tillers with yellow flag leaves, indicating that they're on their way to being aborted by the plant:
This is the intended result of stopping irrigation. The late tillers die so all the photosynthates are redirected to the most advanced heads. As a result, they mature faster. Or so the story goes. It turns out that a good part of my field, the part that has been behind all season long, is still in late milk / early soft dough stage! That stage is usually too early to stop watering. Over the past week, I watched the soil moisture level drop from 9-11" to 6-8", down to 4-6" on Monday after a blistering weekend, (80's!) so I gave just that half of the field a dousing (10 minutes from the heads) on Monday.
I probably should have held off, because today they're getting soaked with rain! So much for the strategy of letting the more advanced plants dry out. Nature will do what it wants.
Anyway, there is a sign that some plants (in the other, more advanced half of the field, naturally), are nearing maturity.
Here's a closer look:
Glumes are the little hairs at the base of each grain. When they completely loose their green color, that is a sign that the tiller is physiologically mature. These guys are beginning to turn yellow. It's unclear to me what the glumes are for, besides telling when your grain is mature!
The other sign of physiological maturity is loss of color in the peduncle, which is the stem that the head grows on. This hasn't happened yet in any of the plants. But, the grains are clearly in hard dough stage now:
It's beginning to look like an actual grain.
Now that the barley is all by itself, you can see the extreme shading this area has on the west side (the far side of the photo) -- direct sunlight was over by 3pm during most of the winter. Despite the light limitation, development has stayed on schedule!