growing corn stages

Growing Corn – Stages, Time to Mature and How to Monitor Corn Growth

Corn is a popular crop grown by farmers across the United States. There are several stages of corn growth, and it’s important to be familiar with each stage so that you can effectively monitor the progress of your crop. In this article, we’ll discuss growing corn – stages and how long they last.
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Vegetative Growth Stages

Vegetative growth is when the corn plant is growing leaves, roots, and stems. This period is divided into a number of stages, depending on how many leaf collars the plant is going to develop. Here are short descriptions of the stages:

  • VE – Emergence (the young shoot breaks through the soil surface).
  • V1 – The first leaf collar is visible, and the roots elongate.
  • V2 – The second leaf collar is visible, and the plant reaches a height of 2–4 inches.
  • V3 – The third leaf collar is visible. The plant begins photosynthesis.
  • V4 and V5 – New leaf collars appear, and the plant reaches a height of 8–12 inches.
  • V6, V7 and V8 – With more fully visible leaf collars, the growing point is now above the soil surface, and the plant grows rapidly (up until 24 inches tall).
  • V9, V10 and V11 – Further nodes and collars appear, the stalk is growing steadily and accumulates dry weight. The ear shoots start to develop.
  • V12, V13, etc. – Further collars appear, and the plant height is 4 feet or more. The leaves are full-sized, and the plant requires a lot of nutrients.
  • VT – The plant is full-sized with visible tassels and begins to produce pollen.

All the leaf stages may take 9–10 weeks after emergence, so a lot of warm days after planting are required for growing corn. Stages V6–V11 take place between 4 and 8 weeks of growth, and this is the time of the most rapid growth. At VT, the plant is about 2–3 days from beginning its reproductive growth. Keep reading to follow the stages of corn growth through maturity.

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Reproductive Growth Stages (Kernel Development)

When the tassels have emerged, it’s the beginning of the reproductive period of growing corn. Stages are numbered similarly to the vegetative growth stages, with R1 being silking and R6 being when kernels are fully developed and dry. Here are more details:

  • R1 (Silking) – The silks are visible. The average silking date for a field is marked when 50% of the plants are in this stage. Pollination proceeds towards the tip.
  • R2 (Blister) – The silks darken and dry out. The kernels are white with a small blister, containing clear fluid.
  • R3 (Milk) – The kernels are yellow, and the fluid inside them turns milky white. This is when sweet corn is harvested.
  • R4 (Dough) – The liquid within the kernels becomes more starchy until it has a dough-like consistency. A dent is beginning to form at the top of each kernel due to the starch accumulation.
  • R5 (Dent) – Almost all kernels are now dented, and the cob has a distinct white, pink or red color. This is when silage harvest begins.
  • R6 (Physiological maturity) – A black layer forms over the kernels. The plant has lost most of its green color, and the leaves begin to dry out. This is when field corn is harvested for grain.

The reproductive growth stages take place over 8–9 weeks, and it’s important to monitor the progress of corn growth during this time in order to plan for the harvest. The signs are clear enough to let you know when it’s time to harvest.

How to Determine Corn Growth Stages? 2 Ways

While the reproductive stages are easy to tell by looking at the color and texture of the kernels, vegetative stages can be a little more difficult to keep track of. However, there are two good methods that can help you monitor growing corn stage by stage.

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The Leaf Collar Method

This method involves counting the leaf collars visible on the plant. A collar is a place where a leaf blade joins the leaf sheath. There might be multiple leaves in one collar, so simply count all the distinct places on the stem where leaves connect. If you can identify 4 collars, that means your plant is in the V4 growth stage.

The Droopy Leaf Method

Count all the leaves with their tips facing downward. This method might give you a slightly different result than the collar method, but it can still help you monitor growing corn – stages V1 to V(n). A plant with 4 leaf collars but 5 droopy leaves would be designated as V5 if you use this method. Both methods are used by manufacturers of products to help you monitor the growing stages of your crop.

If you are growing corn on a large scale, it’s important to keep track of corn growth stages so that you can prepare for harvest. The methods mentioned above are two simple ways to monitor vegetative growth on your plants. With the right tools and a little care, growing corn can be a rewarding experience – and a great source of profit as well!

Other Tips for Monitoring Corn Growth and Development

Determining the stages of vegetative or reproductive growth isn’t everything when it comes to growing corn. There are other factors that you should also keep an eye on, such as moisture and nutrient levels and pest activity. To ensure optimal growing conditions, you should regularly test the soil and water your plants according to their needs.

Pests can also cause significant damage to growing corn, so make sure to stay on top of any potential infestations. Whether you’re growing for grain or for sweet corn, monitoring growth stages is an important part of growing a successful crop. With the right tools and techniques, you can have a thriving field of corn in no time!

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A Timeline for Growing Corn: Stages Summed Up

When you’re growing corn, stages are numbered from VE to R6, with each stage representing a different phase of plant development. The first few stages (VE-V4) typically occur over the course of 2-3 weeks, while later stages (R5-R6) may take up to a full 9 weeks.

The number of vegetative stages depends on how many leaf collars the plant will develop. Some corn plants will go through 15 vegetative stages before beginning reproduction. Once the plant enters the reproductive stages, you can also monitor them by looking for changes in the color, texture or number of kernels. For example, milky fluid inside them indicates that the growing corn is in reproductive stage R3 (Milk).

Final Thoughts

Overall, growing corn is a rewarding experience that requires monitoring for various growing stages and other factors such as moisture, soil nutrients, and pest activity. With the right tools and techniques to protect it from frost and hail, you can successfully grow a healthy crop of corn and reap the benefits of this versatile crop.

Do you have any more questions about growing corn (stages, requirements, etc.) or want to share your own tips and tricks? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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