Rutabaga and Turnip

Rutabagas (Brassica napa, napobrassica group) are commonly known as yellow turnips or swedes. They are thought to be a cross between turnip (B. rapa) and wild cabbage (B. oleracea) developed in central Europe. The leaves are bluish in color, thick like cabbage leaves and smooth. Rutabagas have short necks with leaf scars, and they require about a month longer to develop than turnips. In northern New England, rutabagas are much more popular than turnips. If planted early in the spring, rutabaga 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, so that harvest occurs in the cool weather of fall after a few light frosts.

Turnip is a fresh market root vegetable that reaches maturity about 50 to 70 days after planting. Turnip leaves (eaten as greens) are usually pubescent and light to medium green in color. Turnip roots generally have little or no neck and a distinct tap root. Best quality results when the crop reaches edible size under moderately cool temperatures.

Types and Varieties

Rutabaga and Turnip Varieties  
Turnip Rutabaga
All Top (for greens) American Purple Top
Hakurei (white salad type) Laurentian (Thompson strain)
Purple Prince Macomber Turnip (popular in Southeastern MA)
Purple Top Whide Globe  
Scarlet Queen Red Stem (red salad type)  
Topper (for greens)  
White Lady  

 

Soil Fertility

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

Turnips following other vegetables in the same season may not require the application of additional fertilizer as turnips are an efficient scavenger of residual nutrients.

Less nitrogen fertilizer will be needed if manure or legume sod was plowed down (see Table 1, Nitrogen Credits from Manure and Table 2, Nitrogen Credits from Previous Crops).

PLANT NUTRIENT RECOMMENDATION ACCORDING TO SOIL TEST RESULTS FOR RUTABEGA AND TURNIP
RUTABABA AND TURNIP NITROGEN (N)* LBS PER ACRE   PHOSPHORUS (P) LBS P2O5   PER ACRE       POTASSIUM (K) LBS K2O5        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
*SEE PLANT NUTRIENTS FOR INFORMATION ON NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT AND APPLICATION.

Planting

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

Turnip: Seed to 2" to 3" within rows and 14" to 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 turnips are harvested when the roots are about 2" in diameter. For highest quality, rutabagas should be harvested when they are 3" to 5" in diameter at the top end and weigh 2 to 3 lb. Rutabagas and turnips can be stored for long periods at 32°F and at a relative humidity of 90% to 95%. Chilling improves the flavor of rutabagas by aiding the conversion of starch to sugar, reducing strong or bitter flavor.