Abstract The effects of Rht1 and Rht2 alleles on the dynamics of floret development in isogenic lines (dwarf, DD; semi-dwarf, SD and standard height, SH) of spring wheat were investigated. Studies were conducted on wheat grown in the field in each of 4 years and where water and nutrients were non-limiting. The number of grains per spike was significantly greater in the lines with Rht alleles than in the SH lines. Grain number for each line was such that DD>SD>SH. Grains per spike varied with the number of grains per spikelet rather than number of spikelets per spike. Grains per spikelet in turn varied with the number of fertile florets at anthesis. Florets were considered fertile when male and female reproductive organs had developed green anthers and bifidum stigma, respectively. The dwarfing genes had no effect on the percentage of fertile florets setting grain. Increased number of fertile florets per spikelet due to the presence of Rht1 and Rht2 alleles in the genome was a consequence of the higher number of relatively distal primordia, to progress to the stage of fertile floret at anthesis in the DD and SD than in the SH lines. This ability to allow that a greater proportion of distal florets maintain a normal rate of development was related to the fact that Rht alleles produced a more favourable assimilate partitioning to the spike during the pre-anthesis period associated with the reduction in stem growth imposed by Rht alleles. This allowed a higher proportion of the later-initiated floret primordia to produce fertile florets at anthesis.