Vegetable Overview: Turnips


Discover how to grow Turnips with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, pests and disease, and harvesting and storage.

Turnips Stats at a Glance

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, fertile soil

Sun: Full sun

Soil pH Conditions: 6.0-6.5

Planting Instructions

Can I Start Turnips from Seed?

Turnips do not transplant well and are most commonly direct seeded into the garden.  Seeds germinate best when soil temperatures are 60-85°F, but will germinate at temperatures as low as 40°F.

To direct seed, plant seed at a depth of one inch with 4-6 seeds per foot of row.  Thin seedlings to 2-4” apart when they are 4” tall.

Seeds will take 7-10 days to emerge.


When Do I Plant Turnips?

Turnips are a cool season crop and develop best in cool conditions. (40-60°F)

For a summer harvest, turnips should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.

For a fall harvest, turnips should be planted roughly 10 weeks prior to the first frost of the season.

Soil Temperature: 40-60°F


Where Do I Plant Turnips?

As a root plant, it is important that the fruit be allowed to develop without interruption.  The soil bed should be cleared of all rocks and debris to allow the roots to spread and the fruit to develop.  Work the soil to a decent depth of at least 12-15”. Work a good amount of organic compost into the soil.

Soil Type: Well-drained, loamy (loose free from debris)

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Soil pH: 6.0-6.5


How Far Apart Do I Plant Turnips?

To direct seed, plant seed at a depth of one inch with 4-6 seeds per foot of row.  Thin seedlings to 2-4” apart when they are 4” tall.  Do not thin if you are only growing for greens.

Turnips Plant Care and Maintenance

How Often Should I Water Turnips?

The key to watering Turnips is to maintain a consistent moisture level.  This is especially important during flower and fruit development. The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will result in a shallow root system and fruit with degraded quality.

Water the soil around the plant. Overhead watering will encourage disease.  Drip irrigation is best.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.


Should I Fertilize Turnips?

Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained, Turnips generally perform well with a 5-10-10 fertilizer worked into the soil prior to planting.  Do not fertilize again until seedling have developed true leaves.  Once the plant is established, side-dress the hills.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base.

Be aware that over fertilization of nitrogen will result in the reduction of root formation.


Additional Care Instructions

Hand pull weeds that development in the beet garden as more aggressive cultivation could harm the plant roots.

Turnips Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include anthracnose, anternaria, clubroot, downy mildew, leaf spot, powdery mildew, white rust, and white spot.

Turnips Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include flea beetles, root maggots, turnip aphids, and wireworms.

Harvesting and Storing Turnips

When Do I Harvest Turnips?

Turnip greens can be harvested when they are 4-6” tall.

Turnip roots are of the best quality when they are roughly 3” in diameter.


How Do I Harvest Turnips?

Harvest turnip greens by removing leaves as you need them.  You can also use a sterile knife or scissors to cut them in bunches.

To harvest the root, loosen the soil around the fruit with a spade and pull from the ground by grasping the greens.


How Do I Store Turnips?

Turnips store best at 32-35°F with a relative humidity of 95%.


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