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Management strategies for improving soybean yield are most effective when you are able to identify growth stages. In upcoming issues we’ll discuss practices like fertilization and pesticide application, and variables like weather damage and moisture stress. The effects of each of these will be dependent on the growth stage in which these events occur.

Below you will find a handy reference for identifying growth stages. Keep in mind the stages can overlap; a growth stage begins when 50 percent or more of the plants are in or beyond that stage.

Vegetative Stages

VE

Emergence - cotyledons have been pulled through the soil surface

VC

Unrolled unifoliolate leaves - unfolding of the unifoliolate leaves

V1

 

First trifoliolate - one set of unfolded trifoliolate leaves

V2

Second trifoliolate - two sets of unfolded trifoliolate leaves

V4

Fourth trifoliolate - four unfolded trifoliolate leaves

 

V(n)

nth trifoliolate - V stages continue with the unfolding of trifoliolate leaves. The final number of trifoliolate's depends on the soybean variety and the environmental conditions

Reproductive Stages
R1

Beginning flowering - plants have at least one flower on any node

R2

Full flowering - there is an open flower at one of the two uppermost nodes

R3

Beginning pod - pods are 3/16 inch (5 mm) at one of the four uppermost nodes

R4

Full pod - pods are 3/4 inch (2 cm) at one of the four uppermost nodes

R5

Beginning seed - seed is 1/8 inch long (3 mm) long in the pod at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem

R6

Full seed - pod containing a green seed that fills the pod capacity at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem

R7

Beginning maturity - one normal pod on the main stem has reached it's mature pod color

R8

Full maturity - 95% of the pods have reached their full mature color

Excerpted from the Soybean Extension and Research Program, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University (www.soybeanmanagement.info).

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