|This article is about an older version of DF.
Grower is the skill for use with the Farming (Fields) labor, which allows a dwarf to plant seeds and farm plots, both above ground and underground. A high level of growing skill allows a dwarf to plant seeds at a faster rate and also results in larger stacks of plants at harvest, increasing food output significantly. A single proficient grower can easily outproduce several dabbling ones. Grower should be strongly considered to be included in the skills of your starting dwarves to help produce food early on to keep your dwarves fed and to attract migrants.
A dwarf who has Grower as their highest skill will usually have the profession of Planter, unless they have other farmer category skills at levels approaching their grower skill - then they'll have the profession of Farmer. (The exact formula for this is not known.)
A highly skilled grower not only increases raw food output, but also improves overall food production efficiency to a massive extent, since brewers, cooks, and threshers perform tasks with a single stack at a time. This has the effect of a huge multiplier on several labours, and also of making storage more efficient. For example, to get 25 booze, brewing five stacks of plump helmet  requires five visits to farm plots to store those 5 1-stacks in stockpiles, five trips to haul them to the still, five trips to haul five barrels, five brewing tasks, and will make five separate "stacks" of dwarven wine  requiring five separate barrels stored on five separate tiles - and then 5 tasks to replant seeds in the farm plots, and 5 times the size of the plots needed! And that doesn't include all the tasks involved in making and storing those extra barrels or storing the seeds for planting. On the other hand, a single stack of plump helmet  can be brewed all at once into the same amount of dwarven wine , using a single barrel, hauled away in one task, and stored on a single tile. High-skilled growers can potentially save over 30* trips/tasks per single plant product, making your fort significantly more efficient. The impact this has on your overall labour force and fortress cannot be over-emphasized.
- (* save a difference of 4 to harvest to stockpiles, 4 to haul to the still, 4 for hauling barrels, 4 brewing, 4 hauling booze, 4 hauling seeds, 4 to replant = 28 tasks; and that doesn't include cutting and hauling the wood and then making and storing the 4 extra barrels per stack.)
If you leave the "All Dwarves Harvest" option on (in the rders menu), all dwarves, even nobles and children, will harvest when needed and gain experience in Grower. (The only exceptions are soldiers and babies.) The size of the stack harvested is not affected by skill level. However, your dedicated growers (who are doing the planting!) will gain skill in growing more slowly because other dwarves are performing this task, sharing the experience, and then doing nothing with the increased skill.
If you turn on "Only Farmers Harvest", a single dedicated Proficient Grower can easily handle all the farming needs of a young to middle-stage fortress, especially if the farm plots, kitchens, farmers workshop, food storage (raw and prepared) and dining hall are all located close to each other - as they should be. Depending on the size of your farm industry, a dedicated grower who starts at Proficient can easily achieve Accomplished (5 ranks higher) by the end of the first year, and that one dedicated farmer can easily harvest all the food necessary for a fortress approaching 100 dwarves - ~if~ the stacks are large, and they will be if you have one dedicated grower.
Note: If your setting is "Only Farmers Harvest" and your lone Grower dies, is injured or otherwise occupied, your other dwarves will not harvest the plants, and they will rot in the fields, leaving no seeds. If you see crops piling up in the plots, check your Grower(s), and possibly turn the option back on until you have resolved the problem.