All plants are categorized under one of three life cycles: annual, biennial, and perennial. This not only determines how long they live but when they grow, blossom, and seed.
Most traditional farm crops are annual meaning they live out their entire life cycle in a year. Once planted, they begin to germinate and grow quickly. Within a few months, they reach full–height, bloom, seed, and die. This is perfect for farm crops as it allows them to be grown and harvested in a singular season.
CRP, however, is a long-term plan with contracts lasting 10 to 15 years. Once established, the vegetation remains largely as–is for the remainder of the contract. Because of this, CRP seed mixes consist of mostly perennials, with a few biennials.
Biennials and Perennials in CRP
In the first year of CRP, it’s likely you won’t see much growth above the surface. Instead, the seeds are germinating and establishing root structures so that they can grow strong the following season.
Unlike annuals, biennials take two seasons to complete their growth cycle. Though they may break through the soil, many don’t flower or seed until the second year. Once they’ve produced their seed, they will then die, leaving their seed to carry on their legacy.
A common CRP biennial is black-eyed Susan, which is a great addition to pollinator seed mixes. Biennials are typically self-seeding, naturally repopulating after the parent plant dies.
The vast majority of CRP plants, however, are perennials. Similar to biennials, CRP perennials typically won’t reach full bloom in their first year. The following year, they’ll bloom and seed just as any other plant.
The key difference is that this is not the end of their life cycle. Though the part of the plant above the ground dies off during the winter (except with woody vegetation), the roots go dormant, waiting for warm weather and moisture to return.
In the spring, they’ll regrow and continue their cycle. Perennial flowers tend to live three to five years. Grasses can last much longer than that.
Ultimately, by selecting quality CRP seed mix, following proper planting techniques, and controlling weeds, CRP largely takes care of itself once established. With bad seed, however, your establishment can fail before it even begins.
At All Native Seed, we provide a variety of quality CRP seed mixes with the highest germination rates possible. All of our seed has been reprocessed for enhanced purity and tested for harmful weeds such as Palmer amaranth.
If you need any assistance in selecting the right seed for your CRP practice, don’t hesitate to call us at 888-224-2004 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. With over 16 years of CRP establishment experience, our team is fully capable of answering your questions.