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growing maize

Key Growth Stages of Maize

Optimise your crop yield

The 8 key growth stages of maize for crop management.


8 key stage growing maize


1. Emergence

  • Seeds need sufficiently fine and moist soil around
  • Average of 4-10 days required to reach emergence, depending on soil temperature 

emergence stage

2. Weaning: 4-5 leaf stage

  • Appearance of new roots (crown roots)
  • The plant is no longer dependent of the seed’s reserves – it is weaned 
  • Sensitivity to nutrient deficiencies, phosphorous in particular
  • Final plant density determined

weaning stage

3. Initiation of Ears: 8-10 leaf stage

  • Initiation of the ears (number of rows)  
  • At 10 leaves we reach the elongation stage. Great need for water and nutrients  
  • Plant is sensitive to low sunlight and to the application of herbicides

Inititiation of ears


4. Tassel Visible

  • Plant stage that determines the number of ears per plant
  • The number of ovules is 90% established 
  • At this growth stage there is a great sensitivity to lack of water and nitrogen


5. Female Flowering  

  • Fertilization of ovules by pollen  
  • High sensitivity to water deficit:
    • If water stress, grain development can be disrupted
    • High temperatures can cause no exit of the bristles
    • Fertilization problems can cause disturbed grain development

flowering stage


6. Grain Abortion Limit Stage  

  • Beyond this stage, grain abortions are no longer possible
  • Happens at 7-10days after fertilization, i.e. 250dd after flowering
  • Final number of grains  
  • Stage marking the end of maximum sensitivity to water stress

grain abortion

7. Doughy Grain Stage

  • 50% moisture stage
  • Last irrigation stage = 32% whole plant DM stage



8. Black Layer

  • Grain physiological maturity – end of grain fill  
  • Grain moisture at 32%
  • Formation of black layer: closing of vessels between grains and cob

black layer


To get more details about the key growth stages of maize, click here!


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