Growing Season

Growing Season

A growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The length of a growing season varies from place to place.


5 - 12+


Biology, Geography, Physical Geography

NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...
Powered by
Morgan Stanley

A growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The length of a growing season varies from place to place. Most crops need a growing season of at least 90 days.

In tropical regions, where it is warm year-round, the growing season can last the entire year. In some tropical places, however, the growing season is interrupted by a rainy season. During this time, it is too wet to grow crops. Coffee, which grows in tropical climates, has this type of varied growing season. In Colombia, coffee is harvested all year. In Indonesia, heavy rains often interrupt the coffee growing season.

In other tropical places, it is sometimes too dry for crops to grow. The tropical region of northern Africa, called the Sahel, experiences frequent periods of drought. The Sahel is a transition zone between the Sahara Desert in the north and the savanna in the south. Due to dramatic weather patterns, the prospect of a successful harvest in the Sahel is highly uncertain.

In temperate regions, which have warm summers and cold winters, the length of the growing season depends mostly on temperature. Some growing seasons last as long as eight months. Europe and most of the Americas enjoy long growing seasons like this. The farther away a place is from the Equator, the shorter the growing season. In regions near the poles, the growing season is sometimes less than two months. The U.S. state of Alaska has an average growing season of only 105 days.

Elevation, or the height above sea level, also affects the growing season. This is because higher elevations usually have colder temperatures. High in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the U.S. state of California, the growing season lasts only 50 days, but along the state's southern coast, the growing season lasts 365 days.

There are two ways to determine the growing season. In temperate regions, the growing season is usually calculated by the average number of days between the last frost in spring and the first severe frost in autumn. The growing season can also be determined by the average number of days that the temperature rises high enough for a particular crop to sprout and grow. This measurement varies depending upon the crop. For rice to grow, the temperature must be at least 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Wheat, however, will sprout at just 5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit).

Fast Fact

Alaska's Growing Season
Alaska has a very short growing season, only 105 days, on average. However, the Alaskan growing season does not have dark nightsthe Arctic is tilted toward the sun and plants grow in almost 24 hours of sunlight. In a growing season months shorter than the rest of the country, Alaskas gardeners grow some of the largest produce75-pound cabbages, 100-pound kale and 1,000-pound pumpkins.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel
Santani Teng
Hilary Hall
Tara Ramroop
Erin Sprout
Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau
Hilary Costa
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

January 5, 2024

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources