Celery and Celeriac

Introduction

Celery is a long-season crop that grows best under cool conditions (60°F to 75°F) with an ample and uniform supply of water. A deep, loamy and fertile soil with an abundance of available moisture is ideal for celery.  Muck soils are also used for celery production.  Even though most of the celery root system is within the top 6" of soil, many roots penetrate as deep as 2'; thus, heavy clay soils are unsuitable.  Hardpans should be avoided or disrupted before planting to allow for adequate drainage.

Celeriac is a smaller plant with a similar appearance as celery, but it is the tuberous base or root that is eaten. The petioles or stalks are not edible. The tuberous root is prized for its strong celery-like flavor. Celeriac is used in stews, soups and eaten fresh on salads.  The plant is ready for harvest about 100 to110 days from seed or 80 to 90 days from transplanting.  Tubers may be blanched by covering with soil a few weeks prior to harvest. Cultural requirements are similar to celery.  

Types and Varieties  

Celery and Celeriac Varieties
Celery Celeriac
Pascal strains Brilliant
Utah 52-70 Diamant
Sabroso  
Tango  

 

Soil Fertility

Apply lime according to soil test to maintain soil pH at 6.0 to 6.8. Maintain a high level of calcium to avoid blackheart and sufficient boron to avoid brown petiole cracks ("brown check").

Celery and Celeriac are heavy feeders and require adequate fertility to produce a quality crop. Use a liquid starter fertilizer at transplanting, especially with cool soil conditions. Use a high phosphorus starter fertilizer mixed at a rate of 3 lb/50 gals of water. Apply 8 fl oz (1 cup) per transplant.

Sidedress 50 lb/A of N 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting. On light soils, a second sidedressing may be necessary.  The second sidedressing application of nitrogen can be reduced or eliminated if manure was applied or a legume sod was plowed down (see Table 1, Nitrogen Credits from Manure and Table 2, Nitrogen Credits from Previous Crops).

Celery is very susceptible to magnesium and calcium deficiencies. Magnesium requirements can be partially met by using dolomitic (high magnesium) limestone.  Any further need of magnesium can be met by spraying the plants with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) at 8 lb/A per week until green color is restored.  Inadequate uptake of calcium will cause a disorder known as blackheart, where the growing tips of the heart die and turn black. Provide a steady water supply to maintain even plant growth and calcium uptake and provide foliar applications of calcium nitrate or calcium chloride during prolonged dry periods. Maintain high calcium to potassium ratios to facilitate calcium uptake.

Boron, manganese and copper are also critical in the growth and development of celery. Plants grown on organic soils or mixes with low levels of boron and high levels of potassium often have brown, cross-checked cracks on the inside of the petiole. Add boron to fertilizer at planting and foliar apply it during dry periods. Utah 52-70 strains resist brown check. Tissue analysis is the best method of determining the sufficiency of these elements.

PLANT NUTRIENT RECOMMENDATION ACCORDING TO SOIL TEST RESULTS FOR CELERY and Celeriac
CELERY and celeriac NITROGEN (N)* LBS PER ACRE PHOSPHORUS (P) LBS P2O5 PER ACRE    POTASSIUM (K) LBS K2O      PER ACRE
SOIL TEST RESULTS   VERY LOW LOW OPTIMUM ABOVE OPTIMUM VERY LOW LOW OPTIMUM ABOVE OPTIMUM
Broadcast and Incorporate 100 180 120 30-60 0 240 180 45-90 0
Sidedress 3-4 weeks after setting 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sidedress 7-8 weeks after setting 40 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL RECOMMENDED 180 180 120 30-60 0 240 180 45-90 0
*SEE PLANT NUTRIENTSFOR INFORMATION ON NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT AND APPLICATION.

Plan​ting

Celery should be seeded eight to ten weeks before transplanting into the field. Keep greenhouse temperatures above 55°F to prevent bolting and ensure continuous development. Do not lower temperature to harden plants. Transplant to the field in June when outside temperatures have warmed. Although this crop will withstand light frosts, bolting (premature flowering) will occur if temperatures below 40 degrees F persist over a period of 10 to 14 days. Pelletized seed is generally used because of the small size of raw seed. Mature seed and ample moisture are critical for germination. Use two- or three-year old seed that has all matured and maintain planting media near field capacity. Priming seed improves germination. One ounce of seed produces about 15,000 plants.  User 2 to 4 oz to produce enough plants for one acre (20,000-58,000 plants).  Space rows 18" to 36" apart and 6" to 12" between plants in rows (100 to 200 plants per 100 feet of row).  Double or single rows on plastic-lined beds are common.  Flat culture is used on muck soils.  

Field Culture

Celery is a long-season crop that grows best under cool conditions (60°F to 75°F) with an ample and uniform supply of water.  It may be necessary to irrigate when transplanting and once or twice each week thereafter. 

Harvest and Storage

Cut the whole stalk of celery instead of individual petioles. Older outer petioles may need to be removed to provide a fresh tender crop.  Freshly harvested celery may have a bitter flavor, which can be improved by storing at 32°F to 34°F for a few days.  Chilling injury can result if the storage temperature falls below 32°F.  Celery left in the field beyond peak will continue to mature and deteriorate in quality.  

Celeriac holds well in the field.  It is harvested and trimmed of roots and stalks when tubers are 4" in diameter.  If held at 32°F to 34°F and 95% relative humidity, celeriac may store from 3 to 6 months.