How to Farm CropsThis is a very basic guide for beginners, and discusses the general process of how to successfully grow farm produce.
You can probably figure out all of this very easily through trial and error, but some people are really intimidated by the “error” part--it’s easy to misinterpret the game’s vague guidance and lose a huge investment by making one simple mistake.
While some people find farming intuitive, others do need gameplay instructions to be a lot more explicit. That’s what this is for -- though I’m not going to tell you what to do, and instead make gentle suggestions.
Stardew Valley is very much the kind of game where what you get out of it is about what you put in - and you can put in a lot of different things. I know people who’ve had a blast in the game without tilling a single patch or harvesting a single parsnip.
If you spend a season trying to farm the land and grow crops, and you hate it, then cut back. Only farm what you need for bundles, if you’re even interested in bundles, and consider one of the many other methods for advancing in the game.
- Watering Can
Glossary:(IRL these terms can be interchangeable; I’m using them to mean specific things in the context of Stardew Valley)
- Patch: A tilled tile where a seed can be or has been planted.
- Plot / Bed: An area of patches; a 2x3 Plot is 6 patches arranged as 2 rows and 3 columns.
- Line Plot: Plots that are one wide or one tall; best used for trellis plants.
Step 1: Clear the LandThis is going to be a constant process. You’re laboring against the elements and entropy, and periodically new branches and rocks will appear. The areas closest to the farmhouse have fewer difficult obstacles like large boulders. Work near the pond for easier water access.
Step 2: Select your SeedsEvery seed packet gives you important information:
- How long it takes to grow
- If it is a repeat-bearing plant
- If a special tool is required for harvest
- If it has a trellis
So if you plant Parsnips (4 days) on Spring 1, you should be able to harvest them on Spring 5. If you re-plant each harvest, you can get 5 Parsnip harvests finished each Spring.
Seed packets with “trellis” in the description will be called “Plant Starter” instead of just seeds--when you plant them, the trellis happens automatically. You cannot walk through trellises. Always make sure that you can reach each trellis plant for watering and harvesting.
Special tool plants usually require the scythe to harvest. This includes plants like kale and wheat. Harvesting these goes very quickly because of the scythe’s large area-of-effect.
Repeat-bearing plants will, as the term suggests, give you multiple harvests over the season. It’s best to plant these as early in the season as possible, so that you can get the most harvests. The time between harvests is variable, some repeat a lot more often.
Step 3: Plan your Plots & Hoe ThemYou can just jump in and define the plots with a hoe. You can use floor tiles like stones, gravel, or wood to define the borders, or as counting helpers to determine the Scarecrow influence area.
For trellis crops, as I mentioned before, you need to be able to walk up to each plant and interact with it for watering and harvesting, you cannot walk through them like other crops. These are best done in Line Plots, with space between each line.
Every other plant can be grown in a “solid” plot. Walking through non-trellis plants will not hurt them.
You can add flooring tiles around each plot to prevent weeds.
If you have sprinklers, plan each plot around the sprinkler’s area of effect. Early on, you probably won’t have access to sprinklers, and the basic-tier doesn’t quite seem worth the investment of your limited ores. Later on, sprinklers can be a big help.
Scarecrows keep your crops clear of avian invaders, which can reduce your yields. Each scarecrow protects a roughly circular area going eight tiles to either side and up/down from its location.
Plot size depends on how much you want to water. Early on, due to limited starting funds, low farmer levels, and inefficient tools, you should keep your plots small.
As a suggestion, it can be a good habit to plan each plot in at least 3 patches wide or 3 tall. Why? Well, at least one crop each season has the potential to grow into a Giant version. These crops include Cauliflower, Melons, and Pumpkins; there may be others.
What happens is, a 3x3 grid of individual crops will, overnight, ripen into one giant 3x3 version. Hit it with your axe to harvest.
/u/pocketknifeMT reports that Giant Produce will, fairly consistently, give 15 instead of 9 of the item, so trying to maximize your chances of getting a Giant can be worthwhile.
Another reason to garden in multiples of 3: The first watering can upgrade can be charged to water 3 patches in a line. (The next one waters 5 patches in a line.)
For your first year, until you get the watering can upgrades or install sprinkler systems, try growing patches of 3x5 of the basic crops, and three 1x5 lines of any trellis crops.
After your first few harvests, adjust how many plots and patches you want to maintain each morning so that you can do more of the other things the game has to offer.
As you approach the later half of each season, you’ll need to pay closer attention to how much time you have left. As a rule of thumb, I tend to never plant new crops after the 21st, unless I decide last-minute I need a quick batch of 4-day plants.
Step 4: Soil Improvement & SowingImproving your soil (“fertilization”) is optional; there are three different kinds with basic and quality versions of each. You can either buy them (which gets expensive) or craft them (recipes unlocked with increased skill tiers). Each of the 3 fertilizer types comes in a basic and improved version.
You have to place the fertilizer BEFORE you plant any seeds. Only one type of fertilizer can be placed per patch.
This gives you improved chances of getting Gold and Silver Star Produce, which are worth a lot more when sold directly. While you will still get Quality Produce without fertilizer, you will get a whole bunch if you do use fertilizer.
This gives you a chance of not needing to water a particular plant overnight. For the most part, this isn’t worth it, and is made obsolete if you transition to a sprinkler system.
These make your crops grow faster by roughly 10 or 25%. This is really handy to get a leg-up on slow-to-mature crops, especially repeating crops so that you can try to squeeze in more harvests.
Important: If you harvest a patch that has a fertilizer active, the fertilizer will remain active until the patch erodes or the season changes. Always try to re-plant (and water) a fertilized patch before the end of the day or it might go away overnight ... unless you know there isn’t enough time for a final harvest before the season changes.
After fertilizing, if you chose to do so, plant your seeds and water them.
Step 5: TendingCrops need to be watered every day, with a few exceptions. If a plant misses a day of watering, its time to maturity will be delayed.
Rainy Weather: You don’t need to water.
Retaining Soil: You’ll need to check each patch of a plot and manually water ones that didn’t stay wet overnight.
Sprinkler: A sprinkler will take care of watering for you starting the morning after it is set up; you do still have to water anything in a sprinkler’s range on the first day.
Last Day of the Season: Any remaining crops will die overnight, don’t bother watering.
That’s really the extent of tending your crops. You’ll want to remove tree seeds/saplings, if any show up nearby, just because they can become obstacles or obscure your field of vision. People have reported having random branch/stone spawns in their plots, you can repair the damage and re-sow any damaged patches, though the crops in that spot will be “behind” the growth of their neighbors.
Step 6: Harvest & MaintenanceWhen you walk up to a plant and it has green Plus symbol, you can harvest it. For most plants, you just up and pick them. Some crops, like kale, require a scythe to harvest.
If the plant is a single-harvest, you can re-plant the patch. If a repeater, you’ll want to water each patch after harvesting so that it will continue to give you produce.
Note that Pierre’s is closed on Wednesdays; if you know you’ll have a harvest on a Wednesday, you may want to buy your seeds the day before. Joja Mart always seems to be open, but the seed prices are higher than Pierre’s.
Step 7: Processing / Artisan GoodsEarly on, you can sell just about everything you produce. Keeping a few of each fruit or vegetable can be handy if you want to get into befriending villagers, cooking once you have a kitchen, and for finishing bundles if you decide to work on the Community Center bundles.
Note that the quality of any produce used in the Community Center doesn’t matter except in the Quality Crops bundle, which requires 5 gold star Parsnips, Melons, Corn Ears, and Pumpkins.
From here on, I’m going to give some slightly more advanced tips.
Eventually you’ll unlock crafting recipes for all sorts of cool stuff that helps you make Artisan Goods. These are worth more than crops, require less maintenance, usually make good generic gifts if you’re into the social aspect of the game, and did I mention require less maintenance?
The Tapper: Plunk it onto a tree (maple, oak, cedar … and the randomly-spawning mushroom tree) and it will periodically give you a prize. Requires no maintenance, just collection. Later on in the game, you may find other trees to tap, like Palms.
Preserves Jar & Keg: Feed these barrels produce, get prizes. Some things finish processing in a day, others take longer - if you have basic no-star produce, this can easily triple that item’s sale value.
Bee House: Just put it somewhere and collect that delicious honey. Maintenance is optional; during spring, summer, and fall you can plant flowers nearby to get flavored honey, then leave the flowers up all season. Flavored honey is worth more. Pick the flowers at the end of season to have as handy gifts/ingredients/profit.
There are other processing tools specific to Animal Husbandry. I can’t speak to those from a place of experience, so I’ll leave writing a basic rancher’s guide to someone who has more than just chickens. I will say that in all cases, processed farm goods are worth a lot more than raw produce, so dedicating some of each harvest toward Artisan processing can provide additional income with much less maintenance than ordinary farming.
Additional NotesIf you missed it before: ALL CROPS DIE BETWEEN SEASONS
(except corn, which is a summer & fall crop)
Some will just vanish, others will leave dried husks to clear before you can plant for the new season. I did have a random Cranberry bush survive one day, but it did not bear fruit and was gone by Winter 2. That tile was a problem all season, though.
Fertilizer will expire between seasons.
I won’t speak to the “best” crop per season - the values are subject to change, and what works for me might not work for you. Try everything and see what you like.
I will say, again, that repeater crops are awesome, and that Corn, being a summer and fall crop, can be an excellent long-term investment.
Fruit Trees:These are a great resource; a fully-grown tree will, ideally, give 28 fruits each year and they require minimal maintenance.
If you want to be sure your trees will be mature and producing on the first day they’re in season, you need to plan 2 seasons ahead. Plant spring bearing trees at the end of Fall, Summer-fruiters in Winter, and Fall producers in Spring.
Fruit trees need 2 tiles between one another, and will only grow if they have clear space on all 8 adjacent tiles.
If you have a lot of fruit trees, planting a few grass starters near them during their off-seasons makes use of the space and can provide fodder for any livestock.
Winter:You have no ordinary seed crops available during winter. This is a good time to finish clearing your land, upgrade your tools, and explore other parts of the game like the mine and fishing.
If you’re interested in animal husbandry and have built a Silo, be sure to harvest any wild grass before Winter; grass dies on Winter 1.
Fruit Trees will grow through winter. Oak, Maple, and Pine saplings will not mature.
Edits & Bonus TipsI’m just going to preemptively make this section. I’m sure I’ll need to make formatting edits, and depending on my time / attention span I’ll add in relevant suggestions and tips made by others.
Sure enough ... typos and formatting errors galore.
Kraineth: "The Scythe will not cut any of your crops unless they are specifically the crops intended to harvest via Scythe"
FenixR: "The Keg and Jar still increase the prices of silver and gold star products." (note: This one is still being debated back and forth; it seems that this happens for some people, for some products, but not all the time for all products)
Seilaerion: "The Oil Maker isn't actually limited to only truffles. You can throw sunflower seeds in and get normal Oil back."
pocketknifeMT: "15 units. I watched and it held true for 3 crops." (in reference to the Giant crops and their increased yields)
Ryhlac says that tappers work on palm trees too.
rtfree posted a reminder that in Winter, you can plant and harvest the Winter Foraging seeds. (When you complete the bundle, you can build a packet of Foraging seeds using 4 seasonal foraging items).
DisclaimersThis is a guide for Stardew Valley as of the first week it was out. The developer is very likely to make changes as feedback rolls in, and as time passes this guide may become less and less relevant. I undertake no obligation to update or revise this guide, though I may voluntarily do so for a limited time.