I. 2. Introduction: Terminology and botany of cereals.
Cereal crops are members of the Graminaceae (grass) plant family, one of the largest. This unit will compare the similarities and differences of the grass family in relation to cereal crops.
A. Terminology, facts.
cereal grains the grain of cereal crops.
small grains small seeded cereal crops such as wheat, oats, barley, triticale, rye.
food grains cereals utilized for human consumption such as rice, wheat, rye and some millets.
feed grains cereals utilized for animal consumption such as corn and grain sorghum.
cereal crops account for over half of the cultivated crop acreage.
corn over 50% of worlds production is in the U.S.
rice 95% worlds rice is produced AND consumed in Asian countries!
test weight the weight of a bushel of grain adjusted for a set moisture percentage, ie.,
corn = 15.5% and wheat = 13.5%. Basically a measure of grain density.
Factors related to test weights of harvested cereals:
- species, variety
- soil moisture, fertility
- sunlight and growing conditions during grain fill
- pest (insects, disease, etc) pressure, especially during grain fill
Botanical aspects of cereal crops.
1. cool season cereals: ie., wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale.
- winter cool season cereal, ie., winter wheat planted in fall, harvested in early
- spring cool season cereal, ie., spring wheat planted in early spring, harvested
2. warm season cereals: ie., corn, rice, millets, grain sorghum. Planted in spring,
harvested in fall.
3. Photosynthesis pathway:
- C3 cereals have the C3 carbon pathway of photosynthesis. Examples: all
cool season cereals. Rice is the only C3 warm season cereal.
- C4 cereals have the C4 carbon pathway of photosynthesis. All warm
season cereals except rice are C4.
C4 cereals are more efficient dry matter accumulators because C4 plants have lower
rates of carbon loss due to photorespiration.
4. long-day cereals cereals originating in more extreme latitudes where the day lengths
are longer. Examples: all the cool season cereals such as wheat, oats, rye, barley, etc.
5. short-day cereals cereals originating near the equator where day lengths are shorter.
Examples: all the warm season cereals!
6. Nitro-negative cereals high soil N levels may delay flowering, harvest time.
Examples: all the cool season cereals.
7. Nitro-positive cereals high soil N may speed up the flowering process and
result in earlier harvest. Examples: all the warm season cereals.
8. vernalization for cool season cereals. A cool (chilling) period necessary to stimulate
the flowering process. This is basically several weeks of 45 F or cooler temperatures
during vegetative growth (can occur at night) which trigger inflorescence extension.
9. determinates plants that grow vegetative, then enter into reproductive growth, ie.,
distinct vegetative and reproductive growth. ALL cereals are determinates.
10. sigmoid growth curve classic growth pattern of plants featuring a rapid, linear
phase corresponding to internode elongation in grasses (Fig. 1). Interesting too, this
same growth pattern exists for grain filling in cereals.
early veg. rapid linear reproductive, grain filling
11. drought evador cereals that can delay flowering if under a drought stress.
Grain sorghum is the only cereal that can do this significantly.
12. tillering new plants that sprout from the base of seedlings during a distinct
tillering phase of growth. Tillering is related to species, variety, soil fertility and
plant density. Plants tend to produce more tillers if plant density of low. This is an
important growth stage of most cereals in relation to final seed yields except for corn
and grain sorghum, which dont tiller much at all.
Reproductive aspects of cereal crops.
1. grass floret the grass flower. Highlights:
- only one ovule per ovary.
- two feathery stigmas per ovary.
- three anthers per floret, except RICE, which has six!
- the lemma and palea are modified petals and sepals.
- florets are arranged on spikelets, which are arranged on inflorescences of
three main types: spike (ie., wheat, barley), panicle (ie., rice, corn, grain
sorghum) and raceme (mostly forage species).
Refer to the illustrations of the:
2. collar region possesses a unique morphology related to species according to the
presence, shape, size or absence of two main parts: ligule and auricles.
Refer to the illustration of the: GRASS COLLAR