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Feekes Scale of Wheat Development

At least five scales commonly are used worldwide to describe stages of growth of wheat and other small grains. The most widely used scale in the United States is the Feekes scale.  Knowing the various stages of growth and development of a wheat crop enables growers to exercise better management of inputs to be used at the proper growth stage and not according to a calendar date.

Agronomists have developed the Feekes' Scale, an objective measure of the growth and development of wheat plants, to help growers identify the optimum time to apply inputs.

This measuring system ranges from 1.0 (to designate emergence of the first seedling leaf) to 11.4 (to designate mature plants with hard grain). To see a clearer version of the diagrams click here.

Tillering Feekes Scale of Wheat Development
  1. One shoot. The number of leaves present on the first shoot can be designated with a decimal.  For example, 1.3 is a single shoot with three leaves unfolded.
  2. Beginning of tillering
  3. Tillers formed, leaves often twisted spirally.
  4. Beginning of the erection of the pseudo-stem; leaf sheaths beginning to lengthen
  5. Pseudo-stem (formed by sheaths of leaves) strongly erect.

Stem Extension Feekes Scale of Wheat Development
Stem Extension

6.     First node of stem visible at base of shoot
7.     Second node of stem formed, next-to-last leaf just visible
8.     Last leaf visible, but still rolled up, ear beginning to swell
9.     Ligule (flag leaf )of last leaf just visible
10   Sheath of last leaf completely grown out, ear swollen but not yet visible.

Heading Feekes Scale of Wheat Development

10.1          Awns visible, heads emerging through slit of flag leaf
10.2          Quarter of heading process completed
10.3          Half of heading process completed
10.4          Three-quarters of heading process completed
10.5          Heading complete

Ripening Feekes Scale of Wheat Development
Feekes 11.4


11.1          Milky ripe
11.2          Mealy ripe, contents of kernel soft but dry
11.3          Kernel hard (difficult to divide by thumb-nail)
11.4          Ripe for cutting. Straw dead