In order to answer the question to what extent the salt tolerance of agricultural crops is growth stage dependent, a literature study has been carried out. For the plant’s reaction to salt in the root zone, various mechanisms are responsible. They can be summarized in an osmotic effect and an ion effect, each with their own dynamics. The variability of salt tolerance at successive growth stages can only be addressed qualitatively. The lack of data collected under Dutch growth conditions means that cropwise quantification is not possible, and application in water management is problematic. New experiments are needed to get a finger behind the ‘genesis history’ of salt damage.