Succession cropping is the planting of two or more crops in the same space at different times: a second crop succeeds a first as soon as possible after harvest and in some regions a third crop can succeed the second after harvest.
Each crop in succession planting must come to harvest during its optimal harvest period. Cool-season crops grow best when the air and soil temperatures average 60 to75ºF (15-24ºC); they will stop producing when daytime temperatures exceed 80ºF (27ºC). Warm-season crops grow best when the air and soil temperature average 70 to 85ºF (21-29ºC); they should be protected from temperatures below 50ºF (10ºC) as they reach maturity.
Planning is essential for succession cropping. First, consider the temperature requirements of each crop (is it a cool-season crop or a warm-season crop?); second, consider the number of days to maturity that each crop requires; third, consider the average daytime temperatures over the next 30 to 90 days to make sure each crop reaches harvest in its optimal temperature range.
A common succession would be to plant a cool-season crop in early spring, following with a warm-season crop in late spring or early summer, and succeeding with another cool-season crop in mid- to late-summer.
Use average days to maturity for cool- and warm-season crops to plan succession crops. To get the most out of the growing season, put the first crop in as soon as possible in spring—setting out transplants or starts for some crops may be more speedy than sowing seed.
Cool-season crops for succession planting:
- Beets: 50 to 60 days from seeding
- Broccoli: 55 to 70 days from setting out plants
- Cabbage, Chinese: 45 to 60 days from setting out plants
- Cabbage, early: 40 to 50 days from setting out plants
- Carrots, baby types: 50 days from seeding
- Carrots, large varieties: 70 days from seeding
- Cauliflower: 45 to 60 days from setting out plants
- Leaf lettuce: 45 days from seeding
- Spinach: 40 to 50 days from seeding
Warm-season crops for succession planting:
- Beans, bush: 45 to 60 days from planting seed
- Corn, early sweet: 60 to 75 days from seeding
- Squash, summer: 45 to 50 days from seeding
- Tomatoes, early or determinate: 50 to 60 days from setting out plants