Principles & Practices of Succession Planting
Putting the principles of succession planting into practice will help you take the guesswork out of planning, and bring a steady supply of produce, ready for harvest over the longest possible period, within your reach. Succession planting gives you the ability to:
- Maximize space
- Extend the harvest window
- Maintain a continuous supply
- Satisfy customer demand
Types of Succession Planting
While the terminology used to define and describe succession planting language varies, there are four basic approaches you can take to make the most efficient use of space and timing to increase productivity. In basic terms, here they are:
- Two or more crops in sequence. After you harvest one crop, you plant another in the same space. Depending upon the length of your growing season, climate, and crop selection, you essentially plant a number of different varieties into their optimal "seasonal slot."
- Interval succession planting. You make repeated plantings of the same crop, planting the same variety at timed intervals. To help you plan with this approach, our Research team has developed a set of Succession Planting Interval Charts.
- Two or more crops concurrently. You plant a number of different varieties, typically with different maturity dates, into their best "spatial slot." Related variations of this approach are sometimes referred to as "intercropping" and "companion planting."
- Same crop, different maturity dates. You plant several varieties, with different maturity dates — early, mid season, and late — at the same time. As they mature over the season, you harvest them one after the other.
The techniques described above can be applied at any scale, and are often used in combination. Numbers 1 and 4, for example, are combined in Johnny's Planting Programs.
Succession planting systems can become increasingly more refined, complex, and productive with experience. The intervals can be tweaked by factoring in regional or individual farm-record data, and by adopting more innovative and advanced techniques, such as season extension methods.
Johnny's Succession Planting Interval Charts
Johnny's Research team has created a set of charts showing recommended planting intervals for crops especially well-suited for repeated plantings of the same crop.
The timing between successive plantings on these charts relates to the average days to maturity for the crop or variety listed. Bear in mind that the intervals between plantings shown here are based on "standard" growing practices. In actuality, optimal planting intervals are also contingent upon local frost dates; growing conditions; and methods of planting, growing, and harvesting.
Planting tips and notes are provided, and the charts can also help you decide which crops to grow concurrently. Try our easy-to-use Succession Planting Calculator to forecast the dates of your successive plantings.
Johnny's Succession Planting Programs
Planting programs differ from interval succession planting in that they generally involve planting crop varieties that have varying days to maturity, as well as planting different varieties depending upon the season, to produce a continuous supply. As with interval succession planting, many growers apply season extension methods as an integral part of their planting programs.
Visit the Planting Programs section of our website to learn more about the key elements and advantages of implementing a successful planting program.
- Recommended Crops for Succession Planting. A comprehensive list of crops most suited to succession planting, compiled by Johnny's research team.
- Johnny's Succession Planting Calculator. Input your first frost date and the average days to maturity for your chosen variety, and the calculator will display appropriate dates on which to make sequential plantings.
- Articles on Succession Planting
- Succession Planting Methods for Providing a Continuous Supply. Four strategies you can use to extend the harvest period of many crops.
- Succession Planting of Vegetables. A review of factors to consider for succession planting of vegetables, including geoclime, plant growth habit, cultivation and harvest methods, and market demand.
- Succession Planting of Sunflowers. A guide to easy sunflower production, with average days to maturity and suggested planting dates for recommended sunflower varieties.
- Scheduling Vegetable Plantings for Continuous Harvest. Published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.