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When to Plant Parsnips

Parsnip seedlings

Parsnips are a cool-season crop. They are commonly planted in late spring for harvest in autumn or in late summer for harvest in winter or early spring. commonly grown in spring, fall, and winter in warm-winter regions. Parsnips are the most frost-resistant of all vegetables; they can be left in the garden over winter in even the coldest climates.

Sow parsnip seeds directly in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost or as soon as the soil can be worked. For transplants, start seeds 4 to 6 weeks before setting out. Set parsnip transplants in the garden, 4 weeks before to 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost. Transplants should be handled carefully so as not to disturb the roots.

In mild-winter regions where temperatures seldom dip below freezing—regions where spring and summer warmth arrive early in the year, sow parsnip seeds in late fall for a spring crop. Parsnips overwinter well in all regions and can be harvested as needed.

Because parsnips are such a long-season crop, succession crops are commonly not planted.

Parsnips are best grown in deep, humus-rich, well-drained soil, sandy loam is ideal. All rocks should be removed to a depth of 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm); rock will interfere with root development. Add plenty of aged compost to the planting bed before sowing seed or setting out transplants. Grow parsnips in full sun.

Cover parsnip seed about ½ inch deep. Seeds are very slow to germinate and should be soaked in water for several hours or overnight. For direct-sown seed, the soil temperature for best germination is 50° to 70°F (10°-21°C). Cover the seed with vermiculite or a mix of leaf mold and sand since the seed has trouble coming up through crust soil. Thin plants to 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) apart.

Parsnips mature in 95 to 120 days. Parsnip flavor is greatly enhanced by a few hard touches of frost.

Parsnip seedling
Parsnip seedling

Parsnip planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Fall plant
Feb. 8Fall plant
Feb. 18Jan. 15-Feb. 1
Feb. 28Jan. 15-Feb. 15
Mar. 10Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Mar. 20Feb. 15-Mar. 15
Mar. 30Mar. 1-Apr. 10
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 10
Apr. 20Mar. 20- Apr. 20
Apr. 30Apr. 1-May 1
May 10Apr. 15-May 15
May 20May 1-20
May 30May 10-June 1
June 10May 20-June 10
Parsnip plant in summer
Parsnip plant in summer

Parsnip planting details

  • Sowing depth: ½ inch (1.2cm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 4 inches (cm)
  • Days to sprout: 18
  • Days to harvest: 90-140
  • Storage period: 8-16 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet: ½ ounce (14g)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 100 pounds (45 kilos)
  • Suggested Varieties: Hollow Crown, All American, Harris Model, Premium

More parsnip articles:

How to Grow Parsnip

Parsnip Seed Starting Tips

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. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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