It's all in the grain

Date posted: 15 April 2014

Well...we have the grain, but in all honesty we were a tad disappointed with the yields (amount of grain) received from our crop. The diseases which the plants caught throughout the growing season (Net form of Net Blotch etc, refer to our barley disease blog for the details) had an impact on how the crop performed and yielded, so the numbers of seeds produced per plant was reduced. We will update you on the quality once we have had the grain tested. 

We do need to remain optimistic as we did produce some grain and it must be noted that an individual grain is really quite amazing. Did you know the grain serves two purposes? It is the reproductive unit of the barley plant meaning it is the seed which we could plant to then produce more plants, and it is a nutritious food product which can be used for both humans and animals.

We encourage you to look carefully at the barley grain, in fact here is an activity for you to try.

Activity -

Take a barley grain and see if you can draw, identify and label its three main components.

• The husk (hint, this is the outer protective coating)
• The endosperm (hint, this is the tissue that surrounds the embryo and provides energy for germination)
• The embryo (hint, this contains all the teensy tiny structures to grow a new plant, including the shoot and primary root)

Here is another hint to help you identify the three components, researchers have documented that the grain is composed of 7% to 13% husk, 70% to 80% endosperm and 2% to 5% embryo.   

References:
Barley Growth and Development (2010) NSW government Industry and Investment: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/450734/Procrop-barley-growth-and-development.pdf