How to Harvest and Store Turnips

Turnip harvest

Harvest turnips when they are large enough to eat. Turnip roots are ready for harvest 40 to 50 days after sowing.

Turnips should not be allowed to grow to large or they will become woody, stringy, and bitter tasting.

When to Harvest Turnips

  • Harvest turnips when root tops are 1 to 1½ inches in diameter but not more than 2½ inches in diameter.
  • Turnips that get too big will be strong-flavored and often become tough and fibrous.
  • Harvest turnip greens young and tender. Cut the outer leaves an inch or so above the crown and the leaves will grow back quickly. Don’t cut too many leaves or you will slow root growth.
  • Turnips are cool-season plants that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 65 °F (15-18°C). Turnips do not grow well and flavor will suffer if grown where daytime temperatures are consistently greater than 80°F (26°C).
  • Where winters are mild and the soil is well-drained, leave turnips in the ground until you need them but harvest them before they start growing again in spring.
  • Turnips can take top frosting, but where the ground freezes, lift roots before the soil freezes. A freeze will yellow and wither turnip greens.
Turnips in garden
Pull or lift roots carefully from the garden so as not to break or injure them. Use a garden hand fork to loosen the soil around the roots if necessary.

How to Harvest Turnips

  • Pull or lift roots carefully from the garden so as not to break or injure them. Use a garden hand fork to loosen the soil around the roots if necessary.
  • It’s best to pull turnips when the soil is dry.
  • Twist off the greens after lifting the roots. Removing the tops before storage will greatly extend storage life.
Turnips in a bowl
Store the best turnips; damaged or bruised roots will not store well and should be eaten soon after harvest.

How to Store Turnips

  • Store the best turnips; damaged or bruised roots will not store well and should be eaten soon after harvest. Gently rub soil from the roots before storing them. Don’t wash roots before you store them; if you do, be sure to dry them thoroughly.
  • Store turnips in a cold moist place as near to freezing as possible without actual freezing, 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity.
  • Store turnips wrapped in a moist cloth or paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Turnips will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 months.
  • Store turnip greens just as you would turnip roots.
  • If there is no room in the refrigerator, turnip roots can also be packed in a container—a bucket or plastic storage box or cooler–in moist sand, peat moss, or sawdust. Don’t pack roots too tightly; if the roots touch they can start to rot; be sure to leave 2 inches (5 cm) of insulating material around the top, bottom, and sides of the stored roots. Set the lid loosely so that there is good air circulation and place the container in a cold place such as a basement, garage, or shed.
  • Check roots in storage often and remove any that show signs of deterioration.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Turnips

Turnip: Kitchen Basics

Turnip Greens: Kitchen Basics

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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    • Wrap a sliced turnip tightly in plastic and then store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. To keep the sliced half from browning mist it lightly with lemon juice.

  1. I have a plastic bag of turnips from a CSA that were in the crisper drawer for many months. They look Great, smell good and and are nice and firm. Is there any reason not to go ahead and cook and eat them?

    • Turnips will keep for several months at temperatures just above freezing. It is not uncommon to overwinter turnips in a root cellar. Slice into the roots and if they are firm and of good color they are likely edible after cooking. If you have any doubts, put them into the compost pile.

  2. Thanks very much. I just used this article today to store my turnip harvest in the back of my fridge. About 20+ turnips each wrapped in a small paper towel and grouped with a perforated clementine bag. 🙂

  3. I left a turnip (purchased while food shopping) and also a parsnip, on the counter overnight before refrigerating. Are they still safe to eat?

    • If turnip and parsnip were left one night on the counter at room temperature, they will be edible. But, as always, if you are in doubt, it is best to harvest or purchase fresh produce.

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