Preferment's optimum length of time.

Preferment's optimum length of time.

Given preferment is a good thing in bread baking.

Regardless of type they all seem to achieve these three basic functions;

1) Activate yeast 

2) Flavor development 

3) Dough development 

But like everything in this world it can ony go so far before the laws of deminishing returns sets in. In other words additional length of time does not significantly influence any of above 3 once gone beyond certain amount of time. 

Meaning how much time does a preferment need before the benefits of the preferm can only be measured by a machine. 

Lets  say one were to setup a preferment for 10 hours, is 6 hours the optimum and the additional 4 hours “for good measure”?

Can one really tell the difference between a mature preferment at 6, 10, 12, 24 hours given the necessary yeast and temperature adjustments necessary to archive required ripeness at those hours or is it only measurable by machines?

Appreciate all inputs

Source: Fresh Loaf