Abstract: The aim of this study was to analyze traits of leaf appearance and phenological development related to grain yield gain in winter barley cultivars released over the past 50 years. Field trials with 15 six-rowed winter barley cultivars were conducted during two growing seasons. The main leaf appearance and developmental traits were studied. The duration of the emergence-anthesis and emergence-physiological maturity phases decreased by 2.35 and 2.16 GDD yr-1, respectively. The duration of the stem elongation-anthesis phase was 10% longer in modern cultivars. The results showed no clear trend of improvement in final leaf number and phyllochron. The duration of the stem elongationanthesis phase was positively related with grain number and yield. Constant improvements in grain number and grain weight by fine manipulation of the crop developmental phases could represent an essential strategy for further increases in barley grain yield potential.