Staging Small Grains and Wild Oats


Staging small grains is something most grain producers are very familiar with.  Staging is needed to determine correct application of herbicides, fertilizers and irrigation.  Improper timing can reduce the effectiveness of applications and/or result in crop injury.  A brief refresher course  is not a bad idea to prevent an economic loss this next growing season. Below are a few tools to help refresh our memories.

Staging Terminology

  • Boot– Area inside sheath where seed head begins to swell before emergence from the sheath.
  • Coleoptile-  Protective covering, a tough hollow spear-like organ which penetrates soil.  The shoot breaks through the coleoptile after it emerges from the soil.
  • Coleoptile Tiller– Tiller that arises from the seed (below the crown area).
  • Early Dough-  The grain contents are soft and cheesy.
  • Early Milk-  The grain contains white watery liquid.
  • Flag Leaf-  Last leaf to emerge before head
  • appears.
  • Hard Dough-  The grain contents are dry and
  • cannot be squeezed out.
  • Imbibition-  The process when the seed absorbs water for seed germination.
  • Internode-  The space between nodes (joints on stem).
  • Jointing = Stem Elongation-  The growth process when the nodes begin to separate, resulting in the head emerging from the stem.
  • Late Milk-  The grain contents are wet and sticky when crushed.
  • Ligule-  Membranous structure located at the base of a leaf, behind the stem.
  • Main Shoot– The first and largest tiller.
  • Radicle-  The root as it emerges from the seed.
  • Sheath-  Central part of the stem where leaves are
  • attached.
  • Spikelet-  Individual seed on the seed head.




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