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Wheat plants progress through several growth stages, which are described in terms of developmental events. Tillers are an important component of wheat yield because they have the potential to develop grain-bearing heads. The vernalization requirement involves exposure to cooler temperatures for a required length of time. In some varieties, vernalization is affected by photoperiod, in which exposure of the wheat plant to short days replaces the requirement for low temperatures. When stem elongation begins, the first node of the stem is swollen, becomes visible as it appears above the soil surface, and is commonly called jointing (Feekes 6; Zadoks 31). By the time heading occurs, the development of all shoots (main stem and tillers) on the same plant is in synchronization even though there were large differences as to when the initiation of the various shoots occurred (i.e.
Photo2.4 Many wheat varieties have awns and are called "bearded" wheat, while other varieties are awnless. Flowering and pollination of wheat normally begins in the center of the head and progresses to the top and bottom of the head.
Ripening stage: Kernel moisture content is still high, usually ranging from 25 to 35 percent, when wheat begins to ripen but decreases rapidly with good weather. For maximum wheat yields, proper management and favorable weather are necessary during these key growth stages. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) can be classified as winter or spring growth habit based on flowering responses to cold temperatures. The description of wheat development provided here applies mostly to spring wheat, although the basic development patterns for all cereals are similar.
The growth cycle of wheat has the following divisions: germination, seedling establishment and leaf production, tillering and head differentiation, stem and head growth, head emergence and flowering, and grain filling and maturity. During the time that tillering occurs, another less obvious but extremely important event occurs: the initiation of heads on the main shoot and tillers. Throughout grain filling the kernel moisture percentage declines (figure 9) finally reaching a level between 30 and 40 percent at the time of maximum grain weight (physiological maturity). Spring wheat proceeds through a sequence of easily recognized growth stages that are described by several staging schemes, the most comprehensive being the Zadoks system. Therefore, it is important to understand wheat development and recognize wheat growth stages in order to properly time applications of pesticides, nitrogen, and other inputs. In Kentucky, each plant normally develops two or more tillers in the fall when planted at optimum dates. Cooler temperatures induce cold hardiness in wheat plants to protect against cold injury and to help them survive the winter. Exposure of wheat to temperatures above 86°F shortly following low temperatures can sometimes interrupt vernalization.
The heading date in most wheat varieties is determined by temperature (accumulation of heat units). During the milk stage a white, milk-like fluid can be squeezed from the kernel when crushed between fingers.

Winter wheat development is promoted by exposure of the seedlings to temperatures in the 38 degrees to 46 degrees F (3 degrees to 8 degrees C) range. Figure 1 shows major developmental stages in spring wheat and approximate time intervals between them in Minnesota. Although the head at this time is microscopic, the parts that will become the floral structures and kernels are already being formed. Germination begins when the seed imbibes water from the soil and reaches 35 to 45 percent moisture on a dry weight basis.
Each new leaf can be counted when it is over one-half the length of the older leaf below it.
Decreased test weight results from the alternate wetting (rains or heavy dews) and drying of the grain after the wheat has physiologically matured. The first digit of this two-digit code shown in table 1 refers to the principal stage of development beginning with germination (stage 0) and ending with kernel ripening (stage 9).
This means a difference of several weeks between emergence of the main shoot and a tiller is reduced to a difference of only a few days by the time the heads emerge from the flag leaf sheaths. For example, table 2 provides information from an experiment with two spring wheat varieties in Minnesota during two years with very different weather conditions. A better indicator of maturity is when the head and the peduncle lose their green color(figure 11). An understanding of wheat growth and development is essential to achieving optimum productivity in spring wheat. During germination, the seedling (seminal) roots, including the primary root (radicle), emerge from the seed along with the coleoptile (leaflike structure), which encloses the primary leaves and protects the first true leaf during emergence from the soil. Plants are likely to produce more tillers when environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, and light are favorable, when plant populations are low, or when soil fertility levels are high. When stem elongation is complete, most wheat varieties usually have three nodes visible above the soil surface, but occasionally a fourth node can be found.
The boot stage is rather short and ends when the awns (or the heads in awnless varieties) are first visible at the flag leaf collar (junction of the leaf blade and leaf sheath) and the leaf sheath is forced open by the head. Wheat is largely self-pollinated, and pollination and fertilization has already occurred before the pollen-bearing anthers are extruded from the florets.
Harvest can begin when the grain has reached a suitable moisture level (usually less than 20%). Although this system can be modified, it is not as useful in the field where decisions are made using development indicators other than leaf numbers. The "boot" stage is just prior to head emergence, when the flag leaf sheath encloses the growing head (figure 7).
The green color is lost from the flag leaf blade when the kernel has attained about 95 percent of its final dry weight. The two most widely used methods for identification of wheat growth stages are the Feekes scale and the Zadoks scale. The coleoptile extends to the soil surface, ceases growth when it emerges, and the first true leaf emerges from its tip.

Because of this vernalization requirement, winter wheat produces only leaves for both the main stem and tillers aboveground in the fall in preparation for winter.
As previously noted, the jointing stage will not occur prior to the onset of cold weather, as vernalization is required in winter wheat to initiate reproductive development.
The stem elongation stage is complete when the last leaf, commonly called the flag leaf, emerges from the whorl (Feekes 8-9, Zadoks 37-39). Both winter- and spring-types, when properly grown in Minnesota, head in the late spring or early summer and mature by mid- to late-summer. A publication by Bauer et al (2) has described early wheat development in relation to the Haun system. Growth regulators that are designed to shorten plant stature and increase resistance to lodging are timed to influence stem elongation. In Kentucky, during the tillering stage, winter wheat goes through the winter months in a dormant condition in which plant growth (including tiller production) essentially ceases due to cold temperature. Generally, early-maturing varieties require less time to vernalize than later-maturing varieties. When the growing point moves above the soil surface and is no longer protected by the soil, the head becomes more susceptible to damage (mechanical, freeze, pests). Previous wheat swathing research at the University of Kentucky at various kernel moisture contents indicated physiological maturity occurred at a kernel moisture content of 38 to 42 percent (with no reduction in yield or test weight if cut at this stage).
As a result, the wheat plant will tend to compensate for this loss by development of new shoots from the base of the plant.
Tillers that appear at the time that the fourth, fifth, and sixth leaves emerge on the main shoot are most likely to complete development and form grain. Due to cooler temperatures, late planted winter wheat may have little or no fall tillering because of limited seedling growth or because no wheat has emerged; late planted wheat will rely heavily on spring tiller development.
It uses a two-digit system for wheat plant development, divided into 10 primary stages, each of which is divided into 10 secondary stages, for a total of 100 stages. As the kernel approaches maturity, its consistency becomes "hard dough." Figure 10 illustrates the appearance of wheat kernels during this developmental sequence. Consequently, fall tillering is important for winter wheat to achieve maximum yield potential. Hence, late planted wheat that has not emerged prior to winter should be adequately vernalized.
When jointing is initiated, these telescoped internodes begin to elongate, nodes appear one by one, and elongation continues until head emergence.
When an internode has elongated to about half its final length, the internode above it begins elongating.

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Comments to “Wheat germination time”

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