Phenological stages of Mediterranean forage legumes, based on the BBCH scale

Daniel Enriquez-Hidalgo, Trinidad Cruz, Dayane L. Teixeira, Ursula Steinfort*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most widespread methodologies used to describe phenological stages in plants was developed by the Biologische Bundesanstalt Bundessortenamt und Chemische Industrie (BBCH). The BBCH scale utilises a decimal-code system that divides plant phenological stages into a binary code composed of the principal and the secondary stages. This system has been extensively used to describe the phenological stages of diverse species, but there is no phenological description that can aid researchers in defining the duration of phenological stages of annual Mediterranean forage legumes that present different growth habits. The development of a precise phenological scale for forages enables the determination of grazing management strategies to attain a desired forage yield and quality as to precisely define the timing of agronomical practices. We have adapted the BBCH decimal-code scale for Medicago polymorpha, Trifolium alexandrinum, Trifolium subterraneum, and Vicia benghalensis. The scale consists of 10 main stages with specific secondary stages. Descriptive keys with illustrations will help identify any particular phenological stage for each species. The scales presented here will aid researchers and the agricultural community in clearly defining the timing of agronomical practices, such as the appropriate time for grazing/harvest of these species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-368
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Issue number3
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2020


  • Fabaceae
  • Medicago polymorpha
  • morphology
  • phenology
  • Trifolium alexandrinum
  • Trifolium subterraneum
  • Vicia benghalensis

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