By Alex Lindsey and Amanda Douridas, OSU Extension, C.O.R.N. 2020-24
A new suite of crop staging videos have been built by faculty at The Ohio State University that highlight corn, soybean, and alfalfa. The videos highlight some common staging methods for each crop, and connect the staging guidelines to practice using live plants in the field. The videos can be found in the “Crop Growth Stages” playlist on the AgCrops YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbqpb60QXN3UJIBa5is6kHw/playlists. These compliment some of the wheat staging videos previously posted on the AgCrops YouTube channel as well. As the crops progress through the reproductive stages, expect some more videos to be posted!
Accurate crop staging is important to time management practices in the field. Many pesticides may have stage limitations for applications in addition to a height restriction. Growing conditions may also affect how stage and height interact, in that turgor pressure and water availability may affect stem elongation. Additionally, stage progression can be impacted by planting date and heat unit accumulation. Solely using calendar dates to make decisions may lead to suboptimal timing of management practices it a specific crop stage is being targeted.
When staging fields of corn, soybeans, and wheat, you will want to check multiple areas of the field and stage multiple plants in each area. The stage of the field is then identified as the predominant stage of the plants checked (over half of the plants are at the identified stage). Staging alfalfa usually uses 40-50 stems collected from various spots in the field, and each stem is individually staged. Once completed, the average is taken of the stems to determine the stage of the field.