in

When to Plant Rutabaga

Rutabaga seedlings for transplanting

Plant rutabaga to mature in fall. Spring planted crops grow poorly and lack the flavor of crops planted to mature in cool autumn weather.

As a general rule, plant rutabaga 15 weeks before the average date of the first fall frost where you live.

Rutabagas do best in medium- and short-season regions where they are planted in late spring or summer so that the roots mature in cool autumn weather. Best root development is made in temperatures averaging 60° to 65°F (16°-18°C).

When planted where summers are hot, rutabaga will produce small pithy roots.

Rutabaga growing conditions

Rutabaga grows best in medium-heavy soils rich in organic matter. In light soils, rutabaga must be given ample nutrients and moisture. Prepare the soil to a depth of 10 inches and work in plenty of aged compost. Mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.

Avoid excess nitrogen which will stimulate root growth at the expense of root development.

Rutabaga planting suggestions

If you are planting rutabaga toward midsummer, precede the crop with Chinese cabbage, midseason carrots, early cabbages, and bush beans.

Rutabaga harvest

Rutabaga will mature in 85 to 90 days. Roots can be harvested and used as soon as they are large enough to use. Plants touched by frost will have the best flavor.

Roots can be stored in the garden under a thick layer of mulch for an extended winter harvest. Do not let the roots freeze. Complete the harvest before top growth resprouts in spring.

Rutabaga ready for harvest
Rutabaga ready for harvest

Rutabaga planting dates for cool summer regions

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Feb. 8Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Feb. 18Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Feb. 28Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Mar. 10Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Mar. 20Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Mar. 30Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Apr. 10Plant 15 weeks before first fall frost
Apr. 20Mar. 15- Apr. 15
Apr. 30Apr. 15-May 15
May 10May 1-June 1
May 20May 10-20
May 30May 20-June 1
June 10June 1-June 10
Rutabaga is most flavorful after a frost or freeze
Rutabaga is most flavorful after a frost or freeze

Rutabaga planting details

  • Sowing depth: ½ inch (1.2cm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 8 inches (20cm)
  • Days to sprout: 7-15
  • Days to harvest: 90-120
  • Storage period: 12-24 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet: ½ ounce (14g)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 300 pounds (136kg)
  • Suggested Varieties: American Purple Top, Laurentian, York

More rutabaga growing tips:

How to Grow Rutabaga

Rutabaga 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.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Parsnip seedlings

When to Plant Parsnips

Mustard seedlings

When to Plant Mustard Greens