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Realistic Biomes is a plugin that reduces crop growth speeds depending on the biome and introduces a number of additional growth factors to crops and animals. It also allows several types of crops to grow even if the chunk the crop is in is not loaded.
This spreadsheet lists all factors in the current configuration and their resulting growth rates. It will be kept up to date as any changes are made. If there is no number given for a given factor or biome then the element either does not grow at all, grows in vanilla fashion, or is not applicable. If you feel adventurous, you can check the plugin's config file.
Checking Growth Rates:
Hit (left click) on the ground with seeds or saplings to determine the growth rate of that plant/tree at that particular location as a fraction of the vanilla rate. Similarly, right click on a crop or animal with a stick in hand to determine the growth rate of that plant/animal as a fraction of the vanilla rate.
Checking a persistent crop will trigger the crop to examine it's persisted growth state and match it's growth stage to the persisted growth state. To force a crop to grow to it's true growth stage without the console message, right click on the crop with a bone in hand.
most crops and animals will have a preferred biome to live in and several biomes with slower growth and may not grow at all in some biomes.
The following crops have had persistence enabled, they will grow even if the chunk they are in are not loaded. See the above section on persistent crops.
wheat potatoes carrots cocoa nether-wart melon stems (not melon blocks) pumpkin stems (not pumpkin blocks)
Some plants must have access to sunlight to live. They will grow more slowly in blocks with less sunlight.
Some plants will receive a penalty for growing somewhere that is not the surface. The crops will get a bonus to the growth rate if there is an unbroken chain of air/leaf/vine blocks from the crop to the sky limit.
In general, growing stuff underground is a bad idea.
This is also true for many animals, bring animals outside to breed.
Netherwarts and mushrooms do not have this restriction.
Put glowstone next to crops like this and the growth rate for those crops will receive ignore sunlight and receive a separate bonus. This is less effective than growing under the open sky (75%) but allows crops to grow inside or underground.
Put clay underneath the farmland block of a crop to increase growth speeds, up to 4 blocks of clay may be placed. +50% growth speed per block for up to 4 blocks of clay per farmland.
Nether-warts work similarly, except for with soulsand.
Unbroken chains of vines directly beneath the cocoa pod will increase growth speeds considerably. Up to 750% growth rate increase for 25 vine blocks.
Fishing is only allowed in river and ocean biomes. Enchanted books cannot be fished.