Cereal crop cultivation follows a complete lifecycle: grain is sown and, after a complete growth cycle, the newly formed seeds are harvested. All cereal crops therefore experience both a vegetative and a generative phase, during which a number of distinct growth stages can be distinguished. Correctly identifying the individual growth stages of cereals is vital to time the moment of applying fertiliser properly. After all, a fertiliser treatment based on the growth stage is far more effective that basing the timing on the crop length or calendar date.

Select a stage for more information

Stage 1 Preparation prior to sowing
Stage 1

Preparation prior to sowing

At this stage, the primary factor is preparing the soil prior to sowing. A well-loosened, moist soil structure is beneficial for root growth and emergence and for the uptake of water and nutrients. Sufficient percentages of lutum particles, lime and organic matter promote the physical and chemical properties of the soil.

Soiltech does not offer any specific products for this stage.

Stage 2 Sowing
Stage 2


During the sowing period, the right conditions must be created for uniform crop development. The important factors here are seedbed preparation, sowing conditions, timing and the sowing technique. To benefit crop development, it is best that the plants start tillering at the beginning of winter. This improves the frost resistance of the crop and accelerates development in the spring.

Soiltech does not offer any specific products for this stage.

Stage 3 Emergence (or germination and root development)
Stage 3

Emergence (or germination and root development)

Germination is initiated from the moment the seed uptakes water. This starts the formation of the growing point and the radicles. Three leaves are formed during this seedling growth stage and below the soil the radicles develop strongly to a depth of 40-50 cm.

Soiltech does not offer any specific products for this stage.

Stage 4 Tillering
Stage 4


Tillering is characterised by the formation of tillers (lateral shoots each with their own specific growing point). These tillers develop from the axillary buds of the first formed leaves. At the same time, a large, branched root system is formed during the tillering stage. The newly formed crown roots anchor the crop and ensure a good uptake of water and minerals from the soil.

Stage 5 Stem elongation (additional to the fertilisation plan)
Stage 5

Stem elongation (additional to the fertilisation plan)

The stem elongation period only lasts a few weeks. Crop development during this stage is characterised by high biomass production of the stems and leaves. To achieve this high production, the plant needs ample availability of assimilates and a high photosynthesis activity is desirable.

Copper is an indispensable element during stem elongation. A copper deficiency results in a significant reduction in lignin formation which can lead to weaker stems and an increased higher risk of lodging. Two to three spray applications of 1.0 l/ha Optima Leaf-Cu will supply the crop with sufficient copper.

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Stage 6 Ear formation
Stage 6

Ear formation

At the end of the stem elongation stage, the plant enters the generative phase and starts to form ears. Influenced by high growth activity, the growing point of the stem develops into an ear. During this process, the crop has a relatively high assimilate and nutrient demand.

Copper in particular is a critical trace element at this stage, as a copper deficiency can cause ears to form but not to fill (so-called blind ears). A foliar application of 1.0 l/ha Optima Leaf-Cu is the solution.

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Stage 7 Grain fill and ripening
Stage 7

Grain fill and ripening

The grain filling stage is characterised by a strong growth of the grains. The crop ripens as the leaves and haulms die off. Initially, the grain weight will increase considerably. The moisture content of the grain then decreases causing it to harden so it can be stored for a long period. The grains are the plant's storage organs and are rich in protein and carbohydrates. The fertilisation strategy can influence the protein/carbohydrate ratio in the grain.

Strategy 1: focus on protein

Nitrogen is an important component of proteins, up to 80% of the nitrogen uptake ultimately ends up in the grain.

Strategy 2: focus on carbohydrates

Potassium is extremely important for a good sap flow and stimulates the transport of carbohydrates to the grain. To boost the transport of carbohydrates to the grain, several foliar applications of 2.5 – 5 l/ha Optima Leaf-K are recommended.

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