A decision support system (DSS) is described that quantitatively analyzes certain important light climate characteristics of crops planted in discrete canopy, hedgerow, or trellis cropping systems. The DSS facilitates rapid and efficient calculation of the theoretical maximum shading (or, conversely, the theoretical minimum level of insolation) for use in determining the planting pattern that minimizes canopy shading during user-specified temporal intervals. It addresses canopy shading in field plantings within a wide variety of geometric patterns, interplant spacings, canopy sizes and forms, global latitudes, pattern orientations, site reliefs and aspects. Calculations describe insolation characteristics during any hour(s) of the day or day(s) of the year within the range of planting parameters. The DSS functions as a systems tool, or module, for design of the spatial subsystem component of a particular cropping strategy where horticulturally important traits are regulated by the light climate.