For determining the right timing of winter wheat management decisions, identifying the growth stage of wheat plants is critical. For example, knowing how to identify wheat Feekes Stage 6 is important because this is the cutoff timing for certain herbicides ( i.e. 2,4-D and dicamba) and also the point at which rapid development with increased need for nitrogen occurs. Feekes Stage 6 is also the timing when extreme cold temperatures can cause significant damage to wheat plants. Agronomists and wheat experts recommended that spring applications of N are made prior to Feekes Stage 6 (also known as jointing) when the wheat plant begins a period of rapid growth and will utilize more nitrogen. Wheat is currently at or past Feekes 6 in many areas.
How do you identify wheat plants at Feekes Stage 6? The easiest way to tell is to dig up a wheat plant and examine the main stem. If only one node is visible above the soil surface the plant is in Feekes Stage 6. Near the center of the picture above, you can see the node on the main stem. This is a pretty easy growth stage to identifty, but is critical knowledge for all wheat producers as it signals an important stage in the wheat crop development.