‘Plant development’ refers to the stages through which a plant progresses from when it is planted, usually as a seed or other structure such as a potato tuber, until it is mature.
In annual plants maturity occurs at the end of a plants life, but in longer lived plants, may be an extended period during which fruit production, for instance, occurs. In vegetables and associated industries, most plants used are annuals, though pyrethrum may be produced over two or more years from the annual flowering of a single planting of the crop,
Plants typically proceed through germination, emergence from the soil, a seedling (juvenile stage), a vegetative stage, after which flowering and seed or fruit set occurs, followed by growth of the seed or fruit until maturity. The rate of plant development and the change from one stage to another are usually controlled by the environment – in particular, temperature and day-length, and some plants have highly specific requirements that have to be met.
Most vegetable crops are harvested before maturity and are ‘living’ tissues – meaning appropriate post-harvest handling and storage systems are necessary to maintain the crop for sale as a fresh product.
In this part of the website, materials relate to the stages of plant development and how they are used in vegetable and allied crop management and how they affect the product that is harvested. Production of seed of vegetable crops is included, as it represents the end point of crop development – and the production of seed for the subsequent crop.