Crop yield loss due to flooding is a threat to food security. Submergence-induced hypoxia in plants results in stabilisation of group VII ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTORS (ERF-VIIs), which aid survival under the adverse conditions. ERF-VII stability is controlled by the N-end rule pathway, which proposes that ERF-VII N-terminal cysteine oxidation in normoxia enables arginylation followed by proteasomal degradation. The PLANT CYSTEINE OXIDASEs (PCOs) have been identified as catalysing this oxidation. ERF-VII stabilisation in hypoxia presumably arises from reduced PCO activity. We directly demonstrate that PCO dioxygenase activity produces Cys-sulfinic acid at the N-terminus of an ERF-VII peptide, which then undergoes efficient arginylation by an arginyl transferase (ATE1). This is the first molecular evidence showing N-terminal cysteine oxidation and arginylation by N-end rule pathway components, and the first ATE1 substrate in plants. The PCOs and ATE1 may be viable intervention targets to stabilise N-end rule substrates, including ERF-VIIs to enhance submergence tolerance in agronomy.