View Full Version : Seasonal Effects on Crops

10-11-2011, 12:28 AM
I'm looking for anywhere that might give me a 'quick guide' or 'dummy's guide' to the best general growing conditions for crops and, ideally, what the best types of season for them are.

Specifically, I am looking at a Europe-esque continent with a climate ranging from continental in the south (similar to northern Italy, mid to southern France) all the way to a more Scandinavian type climate in the north. Obviously, I'm aware that a mild summer in Norway would be different to one in Britain or France. I'm looking for general, ideally how crops go against each other.

For example, after a remarkably cold and long winter, followed by a very warm spring and a mild and wet summer, our apple and pears in the garden have done very well. However, I believe the same conditions have not done so well for grains. I want to have conditions in my country that can create a good apple or pear harvest, but a poor one for most grains (wheat, barley, rye), and I want it to be at least believable if not entirely accurate.

The technology is medieval-esque, though I reserve the right to mix-and-match as I choose, given that the Romans had running water where the so-called dark ages did not. Magic is forbidden in this particular country, so plays a negligible part aside from the king's bond to the land (which is only important at specific occasions and only results in a harder winter than usual - but I'm interested in the harvest before the king dies and his son is unable to complete the bond for months).

Any help would be most appreciated - thanks!

10-11-2011, 12:39 AM
There is no single answer to your question. Since you are using a setting like Europe, then I think that you should select a region and look into the crops there, when they are planted and harvested, etc.

10-11-2011, 12:49 AM
Yeah, what you are asking for is way too wide. I would pick the crop you want and find out where it grows best. Then use the geography of that area.

Lots of different crops grow between Norway and Italy.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-11-2011, 09:24 PM
I want to have conditions in my country that can create a good apple or pear harvest, but a poor one for most grains (wheat, barley, rye), and I want it to be at least believable if not entirely accurate.

About the worst thing you can do for a grain harvest is heavy rain when the grain is ripe, but before harvest. If you can't work in the fields, the grain over-ripens and falls onto the ground.

Or, perfect weather until almost harvest time, then hailstorms and heavy rain to flatten the grain and it rots in the fields.

A cool, damp summer leads to fungal infections of the grain ... look up ERGOT

10-11-2011, 11:01 PM
Specifically, I am looking at a Europe-esque continent with a climate ranging from continental in the south (similar to northern Italy, mid to southern France), all the way to a more Scandinavian type climate in the north.

You probably need to brush up a bit on climate types. Italy and southern France have Mediterranean type climates (not Continental) and there is no such thing as a Scandinavian type climate (this varies from Temperate in the south to Sub-arctic in the north, and Alpine up the mountains).

To get back to your question, apple and pear trees need a period of dormancy where the temperature drops below a certain level (hence, a cold winter might be good for the following year's crop). They also need sunny conditions during the growing season. Grains are grasses, and are quick growing with shallow root systems. It was a dry spring that did for them this summer.

Broadly, apples and pears need a fair amount of sunshine and grain crops need a reasonable amount of rain in the growing season. Soil type can be important in dictating which crops are grown also, but I doubt that would be a limitation on a national scale.

10-12-2011, 03:06 PM
Here in the UK we tend to grow winter wheat--it does well in our temperate climate. In fact the dry spring didn't hit the winter wheat crop particularly; it was the spring sowing that got thwapped. So how the crops in your world are managed will influence how the climate/weather affects them.

Soft fruits do much better after a cold winter. We had a marvellous berry harvest this year. The warming climate has been upsetting our hardy plants and this return to more 'normal' conditions (ie the conditions under which they evolved) has been good for them. Not so good for some more recent imports, mind. Many of the plants in our garden, including our bay tree (laurel) looked dead for months. I'm sure one bush only started regrowing about June. I put this down to cold shock.

Tsu Do Nimh is right that the most precarious time for grain crops is harvest. Cold wet grain will rot in storage; warm wet grain will sprout. Either is a disaster. All you need to damage our grain harvest is wet windy weather throughout August *makes sign to avert evil*. Soft fruits like strawberries are vulnerable to wet, too, but apples and pears just soak it up.

10-13-2011, 12:01 AM
I had a feeling it might be too general a question. I was hoping someone might have stumbled onto some wonderful table somewhere with nice lists to look at... Unfortunately, not everyone is quite as, er, focussed on the details as I am.

Kenn, I do know about climates - I was just being too lazy to look at my notes to say specifically what I'd worked out for each country. However, in the interests of precision, I give my notes on the Cold Lands:

These lands’ climates range from what is called an ‘oceanic’ climate to a ‘warm summer, humid continental’ climate. In short, these climates have an average temperature of above 10 C in the summer months and at least one month averaging below 0 C in the winter.

The humid continental climate is characterised by warm summers and cool winters, with more rainfall in the cooler months, and a period of settled snow during the winter.

The oceanic climate tends to be around the coastlines, and has milder summer and winter temperatures. Parts of them may verge on the ‘humid sub-tropical,’ with at least one month averaging over 22 C, 4 months averaging over 10 C, and one month averaging between -3 C and 18 C.

[In the northern wastelands] The climate is highland continental, and from there to subarctic (long, cold winters, short cool-to-mild summers where at least one month must have an average 24-hour temperature of 10C or above), and then to alpine tundra and polar further north.

I didn't express myself terribly clearly in the original post, but when I said northern Italy, I meant the humid continental climate. Having visited Lake Garda last September, I at least have a reasonable view of the sort of warmth they get. In southern Cadaln, Torsland, Hrafen, and Thoswid, for example, they can grow vines. That vines are imported and not native is why they get called 'vines' (and their product 'wine') and not something Germanic-based.

Anyway, besides all that, you have all given me a perfect answer - I already have a long period of rain after Harailt's death. I can start the worst of it when he gets shot and follow it with thunder and hailstorms that flatten any remaining crops as he dies (infected wound, takes him a couple of weeks to die).

Buffysquirrel, I know about the berry harvest this year - we had blackberries and raspberries falling off the bramble! And the apples and pears were a good harvest too.

Thanks for your help all!

10-13-2011, 12:07 AM
If you want to learn more about gardening in general, and how to grow all year (and a bit on what conditions plants like- ex: Broccoli and beets are cool season plants, and the first is doing great in my garden right now.), I highly recommend checking out a copy of Four Season Gardening. If your library doesn't have it, and your bookstore allows you to sit and read, most large bookstores carry it.

Also, soil is critical, and changes a fair bit over a reasonably small distance.

You might also check out companion gardening, since you mention wanting to know what goes well together. Most info on the web gives vegetable and herb lists, but if you google 'apple tree companion plants' you should get some hits.

Bees help too :)

10-13-2011, 12:09 AM
Lastly, almost all plants require very specific conditions to 'hatch' and when they are young (more water for one), and different conditions when established (too much rain often leads to disease like mildew), so keep that in mind. I know you're not likely to outline the day to day weather over the course of weeks or months, but since you're asking...