Wheat Development

This page hopes to provide a pictorial documentary of how a crop of wheat develops at Hinstock, Shropshire, UK.

The ability to identify  the development stages of cereals such as wheat is essential for those who wish to understand the growing of the crop – farmers, agronomists, agricultural students of agronomy &/or crop production and anyone wishing to know more about arable farming. 

It is not intended to be a geneticists account, more the account of what happens visually.

Wheat crops develop through 3 main phases:

Foundation – germination, establishment, tillering.

Construction – stem extension, stem storage, ear development.

Production – flowering, grain filling, ripening.

Obviously these phases generally begin and end in the field, with machinery being involved in the process from a tractor & drill at the beginning and a combine at the end. 

We begin the journey at drilling~


Germination begins when the seed or rain absorbs water, this process is called imbibition. This process can begin whenever the grain is in contact with water so if this imbibition takes place in the ear before harvest then this will have detrimental effect on grain quality as after water is imbibed the starch in the grain/seed  begins to be broken down affecting grain quality.

The development of the crop begins with sowing of the crop. Within a few days of sowing

Wheat seeds at start of germination

 the seed begins to absorb (imbibe) water from the soil the roots begin to grow & in a few days the coleoptile (young shoots) is produced & begins to grow.


As the coleoptile develop it will grow upwards until it breaks through the soil surface, after which point the leaves will start to grow. 

Once leaves are developed the process of photosynthesis will begin.

See the coleoptile developing under the surface of the soil. These are 30mm long, so will be emerging very soon.


2 thoughts on “Wheat Development

  1. As a non farmer shortly to be thrust into running a 360 acre arable farm with little or no crop knowledge or theory behind him, are there any books that would help written in a similar vein to your website?

    • Not that I know of, however I will be recommencing my blogs on wheat development this week. Quite simply there has been very little to add over the winter as very little growth was visible.
      I good my blogs can help you, if not please feel free to email me, I would be more than happy to help.

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