Four Methods for Staging Corn Plants

Four different staging methods have been developed to stage corn plants. Crop staging is used to assess crop development, and make herbicide, fungicide, and fertility application recommendations. It is important to know the difference between each method as different companies use different methods to make application recommendations. Are you savvy on staging? Read more for information about the four corn staging methods.

Method #1: Corn Height Method

This method is relatively self-explanatory. Measure from the soil surface to the highest point of the arch on the uppermost leaf with a tip pointing down. Note that the highest point on the plant is not being measured.

This is not the most accurate method to stage corn because crop height can vary depending on
environment and management conditions. This method is rarely used on its own, so you may come across this staging method paired with other staging methods in provincial crop protection guides, product technology sheets and product labels.

Method #2: Leaf Over Method

This staging method can also be called the ‘droopy leaf method.’ Staging using this method requires counting all leaves that have arched over (leaf tip is pointing down). Start counting at the bottom of the plant and move up. Using this method, not all leaves will be counted. The smallest leaves emerging from the whorl are not counted.

Consider this: After a hail event, this staging method is difficult to use if the leaves have been badly damaged or shredded, as droopy leaves are no longer distinguishable from non-droopy leaves.

Method #3: Leaf Tip Method

This is probably the easiest and quickest way to stage corn. It is as simple as counting the leaf tips from bottom to top of the plant. Using this method, young leaves that are emerging from the whorl are included in the count. Exercise caution when using the leaf tip method because different hybrids grow differently.

For example, some hybrids are bred to have shorter internodes between leaves resulting in more leaf tips present before they flop and are fully functional leaves.

Method #4: Leaf Collar Method (V-stage)

The leaf collar method counts the number of leaves present with a collar from bottom to top. A leaf collar is the lightly coloured band located at the base of an exposed leaf blade, close to where the leaf blade contacts the stem of the plant. Using this method, leaf stages are described in V stages; a plant with four collar leaves is in the V4 stage of development (Vn; where n = number of leaves with collars;). Watch out when staging using this method when conditions are warm – corn leaves develop quickly, and collar development can somewhat lag behind.

IMPORTANT: One of the most important things to remember when staging corn is that the first leaf will always have a rounded tip and this leaf needs to be included in the leaf count. As the plant grows and develops this first leaf may die, but remember to add this leaf to the final leaf count.






 Table adapted from OMAFRA Publication 75, Guide to Weed Control

Ready to Seed the Difference?

Contact a PRIDE Seeds representative to ask any questions about seeding depth for corn, or choose the right corn variety to fit your farm.

Sara Meidlinger, Market Development Agronomist (Western Prairies), started with PRIDE Seeds in 2019 and is focused on growing the PRDIE Seeds portfolio across Western Canada. Sara maintains a field scale trial program across Western Saskatchewan and Alberta testing soybean varieties and corn hybrids for grain, silage and grazing purposes to track performance across the territory and highlight agronomic practices. Sara’s on-the-ground support helps growers pick the right corn hybrid for their operation, provides agronomic support and training, and assists the CANTERRA SEEDS team with sales meetings. 

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