How Cold Can Turnips Tolerate?

As the seasons transition and nature’s palette evolves, certain crops capture our attention with their versatility and hardiness. Among these remarkable edible wonders is the humble turnip—a vegetable renowned for its adaptability and surprising endurance. While turnips are traditionally associated with heartier cuisines and cooler climates, their ability to withstand frigid temperatures has long fascinated farmers, gardeners, and culinary enthusiasts alike.

How Cold Can Turnips Tolerate?

Turnips are a cold-hardy crop that can thrive in cooler temperatures. They can handle temperatures down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.7 degrees Celsius), and in some cases, even lower, depending on the specific variety and the plant’s maturity. Turnips are biennial plants, meaning they can survive through winter and produce seeds in their second year.

However, severe drops in temperature or extended periods of extreme cold can damage turnip plants, especially young ones. Young turnip plants, in particular, are susceptible to frost damage. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay close attention to weather forecasts during the cold season and take protective measures if a sharp drop in temperature is expected.

Can Turnips Survive Frost Or Freezing Temperatures?

Turnips have an impressive capacity to withstand frost and freezing temperatures, more so than many other vegetables. When temperatures drop below freezing, the water inside the turnip’s cells can freeze. However, turnips have the ability to endure this condition without the cellular damage that other crops might experience.

Nevertheless, sustained sub-zero temperatures can harm even these resilient plants. Continued exposure to freezing temperatures can lead to tissue damage and rot, significantly reducing the turnip’s quality and yield. It’s essential to understand that while turnips can survive mild frost, they’re not invincible against all winter conditions.

Are There Different Varieties Of Turnips With Varying Cold Tolerance?

Yes, there are different varieties of turnips, and some exhibit a higher cold tolerance than others. The Purple Top White Globe is one of the most popular turnip varieties, known for its good cold tolerance. This variety can endure cold weather and still produce a satisfactory harvest.

Another variety, the Hakurei turnip, also demonstrates excellent cold tolerance and produces a sweet and tender vegetable. Other varieties, like the White Egg turnip and Golden Globe turnip, also fare well in colder conditions. Still, it’s always recommended to research specific varieties and their hardiness to make an informed decision about what to plant based on your region’s climate.

Will Covering Turnips With Mulch Or Row Covers Help Them Tolerate Colder Temperatures?

Covering turnips with mulch or row covers can indeed help them tolerate colder temperatures. Mulching helps insulate the soil, moderating its temperature and helping to protect the turnip’s roots from cold shocks. This is particularly useful in late fall or early winter when temperatures can fluctuate dramatically.

Row covers, on the other hand, can protect turnip plants from frost by creating a physical barrier between the plants and the cold air. The covers trap the earth’s natural heat, keeping the air around the plants warmer than the outside air. Using these two methods in combination can provide substantial protection for turnips during the colder months.

Should I Harvest Turnips Before The First Frost To Avoid Cold Damage?

Turnips are frost-tolerant, and in fact, a touch of frost can improve their flavor by encouraging the plant to convert its stored starches into sugars. Thus, you don’t necessarily have to harvest turnips before the first frost. They can be left in the ground until needed, provided the ground is not frozen solid.

However, if prolonged freezing temperatures are forecasted, it’s wise to harvest your turnips to prevent potential damage. Keep in mind that while mature turnips are quite frost-hardy, smaller, younger turnips are more vulnerable to damage. Harvesting decisions should be made based on the specific weather conditions and the maturity of your crop.

Are There Any Signs Or Symptoms That Indicate Cold Damage In Turnips?

There are signs that may indicate cold damage in turnips. The leaves may wilt, turn black, or appear water-soaked. The roots can also become discolored, typically taking on a black or brown hue, and may become soft or mushy.

Additionally, a heavy frost can cause the foliage to die back, but the root – the part we typically eat – is usually not affected unless the frost is severe and sustained. It’s vital to inspect your turnip plants regularly during the cold months for any signs of damage and take action as needed to protect your crop.

How Can I Extend The Growing Season For Turnips In Colder Regions?

There are several methods to extend the growing season for turnips in colder regions. Starting turnips indoors or in a greenhouse allows you to get a jump start on the growing season. As the plants mature, they can be transplanted outdoors when the temperatures are more favorable.

Using mulch or row covers can also protect turnips from early frosts, extending the growing season into late fall or early winter. Another option is to use a cold frame or a low tunnel, which can create a microclimate that is warmer than the outside environment. With these methods, you can significantly extend your turnip growing season, even in colder climates.