Changes in dry weight and 14C contents of categories of shoots that did and did not survive to produce ears were examined in winter wheat grown in micro-plots in 1982–4. The weight of a group of tillers when dead was similar to their maximum dry weight when living. By anthesis dead shoots exceeded living ones in number but contributed less than 10% of total shoot dry weight.
14CO2 was supplied, near the time that number of shoots was maximal, to tillers in axils of first (T1) and third (T3) main stem leaves; T1 usually survived and T3 usually died. The percentage of 14C in the plant retained in T1 was 78–94%. That retained in T3 ranged from 9 to 81%. Little 14C moved from dying shoots into the rest of the plant in two experiments. In another, perhaps 70% of the 14C in living tillers was transferred as they died but this represented only a small proportion of total plant weight. 14C not retained in tillers to which it had been given was found in all parts of the plant, including about 7% in grain.