When to Harvest Vegetables - New Mexico State University


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When to Harvest Vegetables - New Mexico State University

  1. 1. When to Harvest Vegetables Guide H-216 Revised by Stephanie Walker1 Cooperative Extension Service • College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences This publication is scheduled to be updated and reissued 12/15.Asparagus—Cut or snap spears off at soil line when Cauliflower—Tie or break outer leaves over developing6 to 10 inches long, before heads open. Cease harvest- head (curd) when 1 to 2 inches in diameter to protecting when average spear diameter is less than 1/4 inch. from sunlight (blanch). Check curds every 2 to 3 days and harvest when full sized, white, tight, and smoothBeans (snap)—Full-sized pods, beans about 1/4 of their (not ricey).mature size, before constrictions in the pod are evident. Chard (Swiss)—As leaves become large enough. Har-Beans (lima)—When well filled, but not overmature. vest continuously through summer until frost.Seeds should be green and tender. Collards (kale and mustard)—Young plants or lowerBeets—Diameter of 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Harvest before leaves on older plants. Leaves should be young and ten-hot weather in spring or moderate frost in fall. Tops der. Taste improves with cool weather.used for greens should be tender. Corn (sweet)—When kernels are near full size and atBroccoli—When head is fully developed and tight and the milk stage. Silks should be brown.before flowers begin to open. Remove with sharp knife,leaving 4 to 6 inches of stem. Cucumbers (pickling)—At desired size.Brussels Sprouts—Mature from bottom up. Harvest Cucumbers (slicing)—Before seeds become half-size. Var-sprouts when bright green, plump, and firm and before ies with variety, but fruit should be 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 incheshard freeze occurs. Sprouts will taste sweeter if left on in diameter, 5 to 8 inches long, and should not yet havethe plant until after mild frost. turned yellow.Cabbage—Compact, firm head. Heads may burst and Eggplant—Immature to less than full-grown, firm, andbecome unmarketable during hot weather. glossy black to purple in color (or as appropriate for the cultivar). Harvest before skin toughens and seeds be-Cabbage, Chinese (heading or pe tsai)—When heads come large.are firm, removing outer leaves. Kohlrabi—Fleshy, swollen stem about 2 1/2 to 3 inchesCabbage, Chinese (non-heading or pak choy/bok in diameter; before stem becomes woody.choy)—Single leaves or complete plant. Lettuce (head)—As heads become solid, yielding slight-Cantaloupe (muskmelon)—When stem separates eas- ly to pressure.ily from fruit (full slip). May also be harvested at half-slip stage (only half of stem slips cleanly off fruit when Lettuce (leaf )—Whole plant before hot weather oc-forced) for commercial shipping. curs. Outer leaves can also be removed to allow for multiple harvests.Carrots—Depending on variety, about 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch-es in diameter. In fall, harvest before moderate frost. Okra—Immature pods (3 to 4 inches long).1 Extension Vegetable Specialist and Assistant Professor, Department of Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University.To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and EnvironmentalSciences on the World Wide Web at aces.nmsu.edu
  2. 2. Onions (bulb)—Depending on variety, when about Rhubarb—Delay harvest until second year after estab-half the tops have weakened and fallen over and bulbs lishment. Established plantings (3 years) can be har-are at least 2 inches in diameter. vested for approximately 8 weeks. Harvest largest and best stalks by grasping each stalk near base and pullingOnions (bunching)—Before bulbing starts or before slightly in one direction.they become too thick (over 1/2 inch diameter). Spinach—Can be cut just below crown for once-overParsnips—Can be harvested any time they have at- harvest, or above the growing point to allow regrowth.tained a desired size. Taste improves after exposure to Older leaves can also be pinched off near the base of theseveral moderate freezes before being dug. plant to allow multiple harvests.Peas (English)—Bright green, pods fully developed but Squash (summer)—As immature fruit when young andstill tender, and before seeds develop fully. Peas should tender. Fingernail should easily penetrate rind. Long-fruitbe sweet when raw. varieties (zucchini) are harvested when 6 to 8 inches long, while scallops should be 3 to 4 inches in diameter.Peas (edible pod)—Harvest when pods fully developed,but before seeds are more than half full size. Squash (winter)—Rind should be firm and glossy and resist denting with a fingernail. Portion of fruit thatPeppers (bell, sweet)—Fruit should be full size but still touches soil should be cream to orange in color whenfirm and crisp in texture. Harvest when green if green mature. Harvest before a heavy frost.fruits are desired. If sweeter, more mature fruits are de-sired, leave on plant until red, yellow, orange, or purple Tomatoes—At the pink stage or beyond, but while fruitcolor develops, according to variety. is still firm.Peppers (green chile)—Fruit should be full size, firm, Turnips—About 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.and crisp when squeezed. Harvest when fruit are greenor green with a slight amount of red color. Watermelons—Tendril opposite fruit withers as fruit ripens; soil spot (where watermelon rests on soil) turnsPeppers (red chile)—Fruit should be allowed to turn from white to creamy yellow; the rind at the soil spotcompletely red and left on plant until partially to fully becomes tough and resists denting with a fingernail;dried. rapping or thumping produces a dull sound at maturity rather than a hollow sound.Potatoes (Irish)—Because tubers continue to growuntil vines die, they should not be harvested until vines Original authors: J.N. Corgan, Agricultural Experi-turn yellow or die. Tubers should be allowed to cure for ment Station, and Esteban Herrera, former Extensiona few days in a well-ventilated, shady place. For new po- Horticulture Specialist.tatoes, harvest at any early stage of development.Potatoes (sweet)—Before freezing weather. Cure under Stephanie Walker is Extension Veg-warm conditions (80–85°F) for a week. etable Specialist, and has extensive ex- perience in the food processing industry.Pumpkins—Fruit should be fully colored with skins Her primary research interests include genetics and breeding of chile peppers,sufficiently hardened to resist denting with a fingernail. vegetable mechanization, enhancing pig-Harvest before a hard freeze. ment content, post-harvest quality, and irrigation efficiency. She works to helpRadishes—As soon as roots reach edible size. commercial vegetable growers enhance the sustainability and profitability of their operations through collaboration, experi- mentation, and information sharing.Contents of publications may be freely reproduced for educational purposes. All other rights reserved. For permission to usepublications for other purposes, contact pubs@nmsu.edu or the authors listed on the publication.New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Departmentof Agriculture cooperating.Revised December 2010 Las Cruces, NM Guide H-216 • Page 2