June 5, 2017

Stages of Growth: Planting

As you drive through Nebraska, the fields that were deserted over winter now show signs of life. Some fields still need planting, many others are planted and a few are even beginning to emerge. Spring is planting season for many Nebraska corn farmers. They are hoping for the right combination of rain and sunshine to start their crops growing. Crops and farmers function based on three stages; planting, growing and harvest. This is what the growth stages are commonly called, but there is a science to the growth of corn.

Photo Credit: Payton McMillin
In order to reach maturity a corn plant needs to have a certain number of growing degree units (GDUs). These are based on weather and used to assess crop development. The accumulation of GUDs, corn development and length of time all help predict when these growth stages will occur. In general we think of spring as planting, summer as growing and fall as harvest. However, this system can help pin-point these stages.

Emergence and Stand Establishment (VE to V9)
The growth process for corn begins as soon as the seed is planted in the soil. The stages of growth have been labeled and categorized. Planting includes VE to V9.
  • VE Stage
    • After planted with the right moisture level and temperature the seed will start to grow and emerge through the soil around day four or five. If it is cool or dry this could delay the emergence by several weeks. 
  • V1 Stage
  • Photo Credit: Valeria Whitmore
    • This is when the corn plant has developed more and the first leaf has fully emerged. This typically occurs on day eight or nine after planting. This first leaf will have a more rounded tip, whereas the following leaves will have more pointed tips. 
  • V2 Stage
    • 12 to 15 days after planting a second leaf will appear and that is the marker for stage two. 
Photo Credit: Justin Mensik
  • V3 Stage
    • Stage three is a more monumental stage, the seed is no longer the main source of food. By this time the photosynthetic process has started. This stage is reached 15 to 25 days after planting. 
  • V4-V6 Stage
    • Over this time period the tassel and upper most ear are initiated and the kernel row numbers are determined. 
  • V7-V9 Stage
    • By these stages rapid growth begins to occur and eight leaves have formed. During this time, if the plant is stressed leaves may die. This is the point where the corn plant shifts from the emergent stages to the rapid growth period. 
Before we know it the emergence stage will have passed and we will be in the growing season. When you drive through Nebraska the fields that were once being planted will be filled with tall, green corn stalks. 

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