Growing season

Last updated

The growing season is the part of the year during which local weather conditions (i.e. rainfall and temperature) permit normal plant growth. While each plant or crop has a specific growing season that depends on its genetic adaptation, growing seasons can generally be grouped into macro-environmental classes.

Plant multicellular eukaryote of the kingdom Plantae

Plants are mainly multicellular, predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, plants were treated as one of two kingdoms including all living things that were not animals, and all algae and fungi were treated as plants. However, all current definitions of Plantae exclude the fungi and some algae, as well as the prokaryotes. By one definition, plants form the clade Viridiplantae, a group that includes the flowering plants, conifers and other gymnosperms, ferns and their allies, hornworts, liverworts, mosses and the green algae, but excludes the red and brown algae.

Crop Plant or animal product which can be grown and harvested

A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crop may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquaculture. A crop is usually expanded to include macroscopic fungus, or alga (algaculture).

Adaptation Trait with a current functional role in the life history of an organism maintained and evolved by natural selection

In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a phenotypic trait or adaptive trait, with a functional role in each individual organism, that is maintained and has evolved through natural selection.



Geographic conditions have major impacts on the growing season for any given area. Latitude is one of the major factors in the length of the growing season. The further north one goes, the angle of the Sun gets lower in the sky. Consequently, sunlight is less direct and the low angle of the Sun means that soil takes longer to warm during the spring months, so the growing season begins later. The other factor is altitude, with high elevations having cooler temperatures which shortens the growing season compared with a low-lying area of the same latitude.

Season extension

In agriculture, season extension is anything that allows a crop to be cultivated beyond its normal outdoor growing season. Examples include greenhouses, polytunnels, row cover, and cloches.

Agriculture Cultivation of plants and animals to provide useful products

Agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture into the twenty-first.

In agriculture, season extension refers to anything that allows a crop to be grown and harvested beyond its normal outdoor growing season and harvesting window.

Greenhouse Building in which plants are grown

A greenhouse is a structure with walls and roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to industrial-sized buildings. A miniature greenhouse is known as a cold frame. The interior of a greenhouse exposed to sunlight becomes significantly warmer than the external ambient temperature, protecting its contents in cold weather.


North America

The continental United States ranges from 48° north at the US-Canadian border to 25° north at the southern tip of the US-Mexican border. Most populated areas of Canada are below the 55th parallel. North of the 45th parallel, the growing season is generally 4-5 months, beginning in late April or early May and continuing to late September-early October, and is characterized by warm summers and cold winters with heavy snow. South of the 35th parallel, the growing season is year-round in many areas with hot summers and mild winters. Cool season crops such as peas, lettuce, and spinach are planted in fall or late winter, while warm season crops such as beans and corn are planted in late winter to early spring. In the desert Southwest, the growing season effectively runs from October to March as the summer months are characterized by extreme heat and arid conditions, making it inhospitable for plants not adapted to this environment.

Certain crops such as tomatoes and melons originated in subtropical or tropical regions, consequently they require hot weather and a growing season of eight months or more. In colder climate areas where they cannot be directly sowed in the ground, these plants are usually started indoors in a greenhouse and transplanted outside in late spring or early summer.


The Pyrenees and Alps effectively divide Europe into two different regions. The Mediterranean, which is below the 45th parallel, has growing seasons of six months or more and is characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation mainly falls between October and March, with the summer being dry. In the southern Mediterranean, the growing season is year-round. Mediterranean vegetation is often evergreen due to the mild winters.

Northern Europe ranges from the 45th parallel up past the Arctic Circle. The growing seasons are shorter due to the lower angle of the Sun and generally range from five months to as little as three in Scandinavia and Russia. The Atlantic coast of Europe is moderated considerably by humid ocean air, thus winters are mild and it is rare to see freezing weather or snow. Summers are also mild and as a consequence, many heat-loving plants such as corn will not grow in northern Europe. Further inland, away from the ocean, winters become considerably colder. Despite the short growing season in Scandinavia and Russia, the extreme length of daylight during summer (17 hours or more) allows plants to put on significant growth.

Tropics and deserts

In some warm climates, such as the subtropical savanna and Sonoran Deserts or in the drier Mediterranean climates, the growing season is limited by the availability of water, with little growth in the dry season. Unlike in cooler climates where snow or soil freezing is a generally insurmountable obstacle to plant growth, it is often possible to greatly extend the growing season in hot climates by irrigation using water from cooler and/or wetter regions. This can in fact go so far as to allow year-round growth in areas that without irrigation could only support xerophytic plants. Also in these tropical regions; the growing season can be interrupted by periods of heavy rainfall, called the rainy season. For example, in Colombia, where coffee is grown and can be harvested year-round, they don’t see a rainy season. However, in Indonesia, another large coffee-producing area, they experience this rainy season and the growth of the coffee beans is interrupted. [1]

Savanna Mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem

A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem characterised by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses.

Sonoran Desert North American desert

The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in Mexico. It has an area of 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert.

Mediterranean climate Type of climate

A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western sides of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends northwards during the summer and migrates south during the winter due to increasing north-south temperature differences.

See also

Frost coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight

Frost is a thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point. In temperate climates, it most commonly appears on surfaces near the ground as fragile white crystals; in cold climates, it occurs in a greater variety of forms. The propagation of crystal formation occurs by the process of nucleation.

Annual growth cycle of grapevines

The annual growth cycle of grapevines is the process that takes place in the vineyard each year, beginning with bud break in the spring and culminating in leaf fall in autumn followed by winter dormancy. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role in the development of grapes with ideal characteristics for making wine. Viticulturalists and vineyard managers monitor the effect of climate, vine disease and pests in facilitating or impeding the vines progression from bud break, flowering, fruit set, veraison, harvesting, leaf fall and dormancy-reacting if need be with the use of viticultural practices like canopy management, irrigation, vine training and the use of agrochemicals. The stages of the annual growth cycle usually become observable within the first year of a vine's life. The amount of time spent at each stage of the growth cycle depends on a number of factors-most notably the type of climate and the characteristics of the grape variety.

Related Research Articles

Geography of Morocco

Morocco spans from the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean on the north and the west respectively, into large mountainous areas in the interior body, to the Sahara desert in the far south. Morocco is a Northern African country, located in the extreme north west of Africa on the edge of continental Europe. The strait of Gibraltar separates Spain off Morocco with a 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) span of water. Morocco borders the North Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the west Mediterranean Sea to the north.

Microclimate local set of atmospheric conditions

A microclimate is a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas, often with a slight difference but sometimes with a substantial one. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square meters or square feet or as large as many square kilometers or square miles. Because climate is statistical, which implies spatial and temporal variation of the mean values of the describing parameters, within a region there can occur and persist over time sets of statistically distinct conditions, that is, microclimates. Microclimates can be found in most places.

Subarctic climate

The subarctic climate is a climate characterised by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates. These climates represent Köppen climate classification Dfc, Dwc, Dsc, Dfd, Dwd and Dsd.

Temperate climate hovers around the same temperature

In geography, the temperate or tepid climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the year and more distinct seasonal changes compared to tropical climates, where such variations are often small. They typically feature four distinct seasons, Summer the warmest, Autumn the transitioning season to Winter, the colder season, and Spring the transitioning season from winter back into summer. In the northern hemisphere, the year starts with winter, transitions in the first halfyear through spring into summer, which is in mid-year, then at the second halfyear through autumn into winter at year-end. In the southern hemisphere, the seasons are swapped, with summer in between years and winter in mid-year.

Tropics region of the Earth surrounding the Equator

The tropics are the region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.2″ (or 23.43672°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.2″ (or 23.43672°) S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone. The tropics include all the areas on the Earth where the Sun contacts a point directly overhead at least once during the solar year - thus the latitude of the tropics is roughly equal to the angle of the Earth's axial tilt.

Subtropics Geographic and climate zone

The subtropics are geographic and climate zones located roughly between the tropics at latitude 23.5° and temperate zones north and south of the Equator.

Köppen climate classification climate classification system

The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by the German-Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, the climatologist Rudolf Geiger introduced some changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes called the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

Oceanic climate a type of climate characterised by cool summers and cool winters|category in the Köppen climate classification system

An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate or maritime climate, is the Köppen classification of climate typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, and generally features cool summers and cool but not cold winters, with a relatively narrow annual temperature range and few extremes of temperature, with the exception for transitional areas to continental, subarctic and highland climates. Oceanic climates are defined as having a monthly mean temperature below 22 °C (72 °F) in the warmest month, and above 0 °C (32 °F) in the coldest month.

Perennial plant Plant that lives for more than two years

A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. Some sources cite perennial plants being plants that live more than three years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and biennials. The term is also widely used to distinguish plants with little or no woody growth from trees and shrubs, which are also technically perennials.

Climate of South Africa

The climate of South Africa is determined by South Africa's situation between 22°S and 35°S, in the Southern Hemisphere's subtropical zone, and its location between two oceans, Atlantic and the Indian.

Climate of Mexico

The climate of Mexico is highly varied. The Tropic of Cancer effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land that is north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences lower temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. The north of the country generally receives less precipitation than the south.

Climate of Vietnam

Vietnam's climate, being located in the tropics and strongly influenced by the South China Sea has a monsoon-influenced tropical climate typical of that of mainland Southeast Asia. In the north, the climate is monsoonal with four distinct seasons while in the south, the climate is tropical monsoon with two seasons. In addition temperate climate exists in mountainous areas, which are found in Sa Pa, Da Lat while a more continental climate exists in Lai Chau Province and Son La Province. The diverse topography, wide range of latitudes, and influences from the South China Sea lead to climatic conditions varying significantly between regions. 20% of Vietnam's total surface area is low-elevation coastal area making the country highly vulnerable to climate change effects and the rising sea levels in particular.

Humid subtropical climate category in the Köppen climate classification system

A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 35° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. While many subtropical climates tend to be located at or near coastal locations, in some cases they extend inland, most notably in China and the United States, where they exhibit more pronounced seasonal variations and sharper contrasts between summer and winter, as part of a gradient between the more tropical climates of the southern coasts of these countries and the more continental climates of China and the United States’ northern and central regions.

Climate of Los Angeles

The climate of Los Angeles is a year-round mild-to-hot and mostly dry climate for the LA metropolitan area in California. The climate is classified as a Mediterranean climate, which is a type of dry subtropical climate. It is characterized by seasonal changes in rainfall—with a dry summer and a winter rainy season. Under the modified Köppen climate classification, the coastal areas are classified as Csb, and the inland areas as Csa.

Climate categories in viticulture

In viticulture, the climates of wine regions are categorised based on the overall characteristics of the area's climate during the growing season. While variations in macroclimate are acknowledged, the climates of most wine regions are categorised as being part of a Mediterranean, maritime or continental climate. The majority of the world's premium wine production takes place in one of these three climate categories in locations between the 30th parallel and 50th parallel in both the northern and southern hemisphere. While viticulture does exist in some tropical climates, most notably Brazil, the amount of quality wine production in those areas is so small that the climate effect has not been as extensively studied as other categories.

Climate of Cyprus

Cyprus has a subtropical climate - Mediterranean and semi-arid type - according to Köppen climate classification signes Csa and BSh, with very mild winters and warm to hot summers. Snow is possible only in the Troodos mountains in the central part of the island. Rain occurs mainly in winter, with summer being generally dry.

Climate of Turkey

The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea have a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Black Sea have a temperate Oceanic climate with warm, wet winters and cool to cold, wet summers. The Turkish Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimeters annually which is the highest precipitation in the country.

Climate of Spain Climate in Spain

The climate in Spain varies across the country. Spain is the most climatically diverse country in Europe with 13 different Köppen climates, excluding the Canary Islands, and is within the 10 most climatically diverse countries in the world. Five main climatic zones can be distinguished, according to Guzman geographical situation and orographic conditions:

Ustic soil type

Ustic is a class of soil moisture regime. It is one of a range of different soil moisture regimes, such as: aquic moisture regime, aridic moisture regime, udic moisture regime and xeric moisture regime. The ustic moisture regime is intermediate between the aridic regime and the udic regime.


  1. "Growing season". National Geographic. Retrieved 2 August 2014.