Why Are My Crops Randomly Dying in Stardew Valley?

One of the biggest frustrations with Stardew Valley, or any other farm-sim game, is when you come out of the house in the morning to find yourself face-to-face with a field of dead crops. Things were going so well – what happened?

Many players are surprised to learn that crops can rot, wither, and die in Stardew Valley. This isn’t a great situation for the MC player farmer to come out to but fortunately because of how the game is setup, you’re never “out of it.” There’s always fishing, mining, forage, there are endless ways to get gold and get funds to buy new seeds (or animals) and get back on track.

There are five main reasons why crops die in Stardew Valley. Those are season change, forgetting to water, lightning strikes, crows, and planting rice too far from water.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of crop rot in Stardew is preventable. Once you understand every cause of crop death in the game it becomes very easy to prevent so you won’t have to worry anymore about a very bad next day surprise.

So let’s dive into how to prevent your crops from dying in Stardew Valley!

5 Reasons Your Crops Are Dying in Stardew Valley

There are five main reasons why your crops might die in Stardew Valley. This is technically four with one being a sub-set, but it’s worth bringing up because it is different enough that it’s worth it’s own section.

So let’s look at every reason why crops die in Stardew Valley and what you can do to prevent that from happening.

#1: Crops Die During Season Change in Stardew Valley

This is a common mistake that true beginners make. When you play in the beginning it’s important to remember that there are four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) and each one is exactly 28 days (aka 4 weeks). When it’s the 28th day of a season, the next day means moving to the next season and any crops left in the ground then die.

Stardew Valley withered crops
Those season changes can be brutal on new players.

Season change is something that isn’t surprising to those of us who also grew up with Harvest Moon or have played many farm/life sims for a while, it can surprise new players.

The number one case of dead crops in Stardew Valley is season change.

It’s not hard to make this mistake, but it means when you buy seeds, pay attention to how long the crops take to mature.

IMPORTANT: Add one day to what the seeds say you need. So if it says 12 days to grow, that means 12 days to grow and then the NEXT day they are ready to harvest. I don’t know why it’s set up that way, but this makes it easy to misjudge by a day and that leads to a lot of dead crops on the first of the next season.

Messing this up by one day can be the difference between a giant haul on the 28th and a field full of wasted crops.

There are only a few crops that can grow in more than one season, which is the list below. All others will die when the next season rolls around.

  • Ancient Fruit (The only crop that grows in spring, summer, AND fall)
  • Coffee (Spring & Summer)
  • Corn, Sunflowers, Wheat (Summer & Fall)

#2: You Forget to Water Your Crops Twice in Stardew Valley

If you forget to water your crops in Stardew Valley for one day that’s not a problem (unless you’re right up at the end of the season). Missing one day of watering won’t kill the crops. However, if you miss two days of watering the plants then they will die.

This can seem random to players who happen to miss one by accident because in Stardew Valley crops die if you miss watering them twice – and those days do NOT need to be consecutive. So if you just missed a spot earlier in the season then miss watering on one day a week later, that is enough to result in a dead plant.

That looks like your crops are dying randomly but it turns out that’s not the case.

#3: Your Crops Died Because of Lightning Strikes

Yes, lightning can kill your crops in Stardew Valley. While a struck fruit tree produces coal for awhile in a neat little Easter Egg type of bonus, there are no benefits from lightning striking your crops. It just kills them.

Lightning strikes happen randomly on stormy days, including on the farm. However, if you have a large number of lightning rods, this is going to attract the individual strikes to the lightning rods and away from other spaces. If you have enough of them spread throughout the farm you can minimize or even eliminate the crops hit by lightning.

While I haven’t been able to confirm that you can 100% prevent lightning strikes on crops, once I’ve gone north of 25 lightning rods I’ve yet to run into crops dying in Stardew Valley due to lightning strikes.

#4: Crows Ate Your Crops

This doesn’t result in a dead crop or bit of weeds, but those pesky crows are an early nemesis that can make your corner crops disappear. Even worse is the fact that crows can eat growing crops at multiple stages. If you’ve ever had the bad luck of 2 crows, 2 crows, 3 crows in your first days before you could build a scarecrow, your hatred for this (admittedly cool in real life) animals knows no bounds.

The answer is scarecrows. As many awesome, creepy, scarecrows as you can manage to cover every single part of your field. I like having them on both sides and some in the middle. I’d rather have overlapping circles of coverage than give the crows any opening to get in there.

#5: You Planted Rice Too Far Away from Water

This is related to the not watering crops, but the soil around a rice shoot that is planted close enough to water is very clearly flooded. If you’ve ever seen a rice paddy it’s obvious why they look this way.

However, I’ve noticed that these can look similar to watered tiles of other crops if you’re color blind and don’t pay attention. Plant a rice shoot right next to water on your farm and you’ll see the difference clearly.

#6: (Bonus) Your Crops Aren’t Dead – They’re Spring Forage

There are some spring forage crops that part way through the growth cycle look like they’ve withered and died, but haven’t. This can be very annoying for those of us who plant spring forage seeds as you think crops are dead, but honestly if you keep watering them they will eventually grow into the planted forage.

How to Tell Spring Forage from Withered Crops in Stardew Valley

I call it the Scythe test. As long as you don’t have mods or have it on default settings, just swing the scythe. If the crop is dead and withered, the tool will destroy it.

However, if the plant shakes but is still there then you know that those crops aren’t dead but still need to be watered to produce forage. If you’re in doubt, this is a fast and sure fire way to tell the difference. The scythe always clears withered crops.

Stardew Valley spring forage seeds
From a great Reddit post (https://www.reddit.com/r/StardewValley/comments/9lixu8/are_these_crops_dead_oo_its_been_raining_for_2/) that shows we’re not the only ones who’ve struggled with this.

Make sure to use the scythe though as the ax will just destroy any crops regardless of their condition.

Minimizing Crop Loss in Stardew Valley

Assuming you avoid the rookie mistake of having crops die when the seasons change, in general crops dying in Stardew Valley is relatively rare. While it might seem like crops die randomly in Stardew Valley, there’s a reason behind it. By knowing the five ways that crops can potentially die, it becomes very easy to minimize the potential damage if not stop it entirely.

To minimize losing crops in Stardew Valley:

  • Create sprinkler-friendly crop layouts
  • Liberally sprinkle scarecrows around the farm – better to overlap than miss a spot
  • Place LOTs of Lightning rods to encourage strikes away from the crops on your farm (Bonus: batteries and useful AND valuable)
  • Use one of many farm planners out there that allow you to see the

Hope that helps, and I look forward to seeing your next crop healthy farm!

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