Outdoor Food Production What is Successional Cropping?

Successional Cropping (NB this is not the same as successional sowing)

Successional cropping can be described using many different examples of vegetables and fruit. In this video I focus on carrots as a named example but you could also give lettuce, potatoes, and many others as named examples.

Successional cropping = as one crop is finished/harvested another is in its final stages of growth / ripening to enable a continuous harvest of the same crop over an extended period of time. Harvesting times are staggered as smaller amounts are sown more often rather than just one large sowing. There are also other ways to make sure that cropping is spread over the seasons. See below:


1. by using sowing dates (Successional sowing)

Regular sowing at intervals, for example, a 1 metre row of carrots or lettuce every 2 weeks. Some crops such as lettuce can also be sown in modules in the greenhouse and then transplanted as well as sowing directly outside. Sowing carrots outside from March until August gives continuity of harvest between May – Oct

2. by choice of different cultivars that are for sowing at different times eg Carrot ‘Nantes 2’ (early to mature) and Carrot ‘Autumn King’ (Late to mature)

3. by choice of different cultivars that mature at different times eg potatoes. First early second early and maincrop. First earlies take 12 weeks to mature, maincrop take up to 22 weeks.

4. by choosing cultivars that stand well for continual harvesting rather than single harvesting e.g. Leek ‘Musselburgh’

5. by using protection to extend the season or extending favourable conditions using cloches , fleece, polythene and low tunnels at the end of the season.

6. by using soil warming, eg Black polythene to warm the soil in order to sow earlier – ie to advance sowing/planting.

7. By using protection to advance growth so that rows of crops mature at different rates. A low polythene tunnel can be placed over the row at sowing to start the growing season earlier and it will also advance growth – eg Carrot Nantes 2

For the exam you should focus on ONE named example in detail for successional cropping. Carrot is the one I have chosen to demonstrate the different methods of successional cropping.

In summary:

  • Select early, mid and late cultivars such as Nantes 2, Amsterdam Forcing,Rainbow, Autumn King which germinate at different temperatures, so staggering germination and therefore cropping.
  • For each cultivar do successional sowing every 2 weeks.
  • Warm the ground with black plastic for early sowing of Nantes 2 in late February / early March
  • Protect germinating seeds with polythene or fleece to protect and advance growth
  • Protect late sowings with polythene or fleece to extend growth
  • Sow in containers and bring into the greenhouse to advance and extend growth
  • Carrot is also a good example of growing a baby vegetable. When thinning rows of carrots, alternate baby carrots can be removed and eaten, leaving the remaining carrots to grow to maturity. This is also a method of staggering the cropping of a named vegetable such as carrot.