On lifespan basis, we classify crops into three categories; the annuals, biennials and perennials. When we talk about lifespan, it basically is the period it takes a plant to grow from seed germination to fruiting or harvesting. We’ll be looking at some difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops.

Some crops do theirs in less than a year (from seed germination to harvest)and they’re known as annual crops, some for two years (biennial crops) and others posses the ability not to die harvest and keeps bringing fruits year after year (perennial crops).

The major difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops lies in their lifespan. Annuals have a lifespan of one year, biennials live for two years, and perennials persist for more than two years.

Highlights for difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops

  • What are annual crops?
  • What are biennial crops?
  • What are perennial crops?
  • Tabular difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops
  • The bottom line

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What are annual crops?

annual crops

Annual crops are crops that complete their life cycle within a growing season or within a year. This means that from planting till harvesting takes one single year. They sprout, grow, bear fruits and die off within a year.

All herbs and plants belonging to the grass family exhibit this type of life cycle. Examples include; watermelon, corn, lettuce wheat, etc.

In most African countries, they grow in the rainy season and are most times harvested before the beginning of the dry season or the other way round. With respect to the traditional seasons, they are generally categorized into summer annuals and winter annuals.

Summer annuals germinate during spring or early summer and mature by autumn of the same year. Winter annuals germinate during the autumn and mature during the spring or summer of the following calendar year.

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What are biennial crops?

difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops

Biennial crops are crops that complete their life cycle within two(2) growing seasons or within 2 years. This means that from planting, flowering, fruiting and harvesting, takes two seasons. They sprout, grow, bear fruits and die off within two seasons.

Examples include members of the onion family including leek, some members of the cabbage family, etc.

One of the most economically important biennials is the carrot, which is harvested after a single growing season when the food organ, i.e. the edible root has achieved its greatest size. If left to go to seed, the food stored in the taproot will be used by the plant to fuel the growth of its reproductive structures during the second growing season.

What are perennial crops?

perennial crops

Perennial crops are referred to as permanent crops because they don’t need to be replanted after one season or two, they require a number of growth cycles before they produce fruits and they automatically flower to grow fruits for the next season after harvest. Most fruit and nut crops like mangoes, tangerines, oranges, coconuts, cashews, etc. are perennials.

Read also: Difference between monocot and dicot

Tabular difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops

Annual cropsBiennial cropsPerennial crops
Definition Annual crops complete their life cycle within one growing season.Biennial crops complete their life cycle within two growing seasons.Perennial crops continue to live for more than two seasons.
DevelopmentThey grow, flower, bear fruits and die in the same season or year.They grow leaves and stem in the first year. In the second year, they flower and fruit before they eventually die.They continue to bear flowers and fruits for several seasons after growth.
RootsAnnual roots are usually shallow and fibrousBiennial roots are also shallow and fibrousPerennials have deeper roots than annuals and biennials. they have both fibrous and taproot systems.
FruitingFruiting occurs in the first seasonfruiting occurs in first and sometimes second seasonfruiting takes time to occur as perennials take several seasons to develop before flowering and fruiting takes place
Crop typeMost annuals are food crops with little as vegetable cropsMost biennials are Vegetable crops with little as food cropsMost perennials are fruit crops
ExamplesExamples of annual crops include; maize, rice, beans, sorghum, etc.Examples of biennial crops include; carrots, onions, cabbages, etc.Examples of perennial crops include; fruits (mangoes, tangerines), oil palm, bananas, etc.

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The bottom line

The major difference between annual, biennial and perennial crops is that annual crops complete their life cycle within one season, biennials complete theirs within two seasons and perennials continue to grow for several seasons before they eventually flower and fruit.

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