Wheat Growth Stages, Their Significance to Yield and Plant Sampling

Wheat production is an important crop in many areas. In the early years of agriculture it was used as a livestock feed, in the production of flour, but the straw was also used as a bedding material. As the need for bedding materials started to decline, the advent of more concentrated livestock operations as well as the limited research to increase yields and declining prices many growers began to drop wheat from the rotation.

In the 1990's, there was a new look taken at wheat. Improvements were made in varieties which allowed applications of more nitrogen for higher yields and there was a market for higher protein content in wheat. These improvements have lead to an increase in demand for wheat which has led to a higher market price and more wheat being planted.

With these improvements, there has been an increase in the demand for higher management of the wheat. One of these high management demands is being able to identify the stage of growth. Stage of growth is important in application of fungicides, herbicides as well as split fertilizer applications.

The purpose of this pictorial guide is to help the reader better and more accurately identify the stage of growth at a particular time during the growing season. As an added benefit, we have added the part of the plant which should be sampled as well as the amount of plant material to submit when sending in a plant analysis. Plant analysis is a very important part of high quality and high yield wheat production. It can help the consultant, field agronomist, and grower better identify the plants nutrient needs long before they can be seen with the human eye. Remember, once you can see the deficient nutrient the yield and quality of the crop has been affected. Plant analysis can also be a useful tool in planning future fertility programs in all crops. Chances are if a nutrient is deficient in the present crop, it will be deficient in future crops.

Wheat Stages of Growth (859KB)