Rutabaga and Turnip

Introduction

Turnip (Brassica rapa) is a fresh market root vegetable that reaches maturity about 50-70 days after planting. Turnip leaves are usually hirsute (hairy) and light- to medium-green in color and can be eaten as greens. Varieties grown for greens reach maturity about 30-45 days after planting. Varieties grown for roots are designated as salad or storage varieties, with salad turnips being tender, mild, and able to be eaten raw, whereas storage turnips are more commonly cooked before eating, although there is some overlap. Salad turnips reach maturity slightly faster (35-50 days after planting) than storage turnips (45-70) days after planting. Turnip roots generally have little or no neck and a distinct taproot. Best quality results when the crop reaches edible size under moderately cool temperatures.

Rutabaga (Brassica napus, napobrassica group) is commonly known as yellow turnip or swede. It is thought to be a cross between turnip (B. rapa) and wild cabbage (B. oleracea) and developed in central Europe. The leaves are bluish in color, thick and waxy like cabbage leaves, and smooth. Rutabagas have short necks with leaf scars, and they require about a month longer to mature than turnips (90-100 days). In northern New England, rutabagas are more popular than turnips. If planted early in the spring, rutabagas will be of poor quality (woody and tough). For best quality, plant from mid-June to mid-July in northern to southern New England, respectively, timing harvest to occur in the cool weather of fall after a few light frosts.
 

Types and Varieties

Rutabaga and Turnip Varieties
Turnip for Greens Rutabaga
Alamo Gilfeather
All Top Helenor
Topper Joan
Southern Green Laurentian
Seven Top Macomber Turnip (popular in southeastern MA)
   
Turnip for Salads (roots) Turnip for Storage
Bella Luna Purple Prince
Hakurei F1 Purple Top White Globe
Hirosaki Red Scarlet Ohno Revival
Just Right Violet Queen
Polar  
Scarlet Ohno Revival  
Scarlet Queen Red Stems  
Tokyo Silky Sweet  
White Lady  

Soil Fertility

Apply lime according to soil test results to maintain soil pH at 6.5-6.8.

Turnip following other vegetables in the same season may not require the application of additional fertilizer as turnip is an efficient scavenger of residual nutrients.

Less nitrogen fertilizer will be needed if legume sod was plowed down or if manure was applied (see Table 1 and Table 7).

PLANT NUTRIENT RECOMMENDATION ACCORDING TO SOIL TEST RESULTS FOR RUTABaGA AND TURNIP
RUTABAGA AND TURNIP 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 50 150 100 25-50 0 100 75 25 0
TOTAL RECOMMENDED 50 150 100 25-50 0 100 75 25 0

Planting

Rutabaga: Seed to 4-8" within rows and 30" between rows 0.25" deep. This requires 1.5-2 lb of seed per acre (about 1/4 oz per 100 feet of row).

Turnip: Seed to 2-3" within rows and 14-18" between rows 0.5" deep. This requires about 6 lb of seed per acre (or about 0.33 oz/100 ft row.)

Harvesting and Storage

Mature salad turnips are harvested when the roots are about 2" in diameter; storage turnips can be harvested slightly larger. Both types of turnip can become pithy if harvested too large. For highest quality, rutabagas should be harvested when they are 3-5" in diameter at the top end and weigh 2-3 lb. Rutabagas and turnips can be stored for long periods at 32º F and at a relative humidity of 90-95%. Chilling prior to harvest improves the flavor of rutabagas by aiding the conversion of starch to sugar, reducing strong or bitter flavor.