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2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide

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Root Crops – Horticulture Midwest Veg Guide 2022 255 Root Crops – Horticulture Major update by Ben Phillips, Liz Maynard – Dec 2020 Reviewed by Liz Maynard – Aug 2021 Crop Description Most root crops are biennial plants that do not normally flower within a typical production season unless they are under stress. They come from a few different plant groups and species. Most are amenable to direct seeding before last frost, and some can be transplanted. Some are short season crops that offer double-cropping opportunities, while others are some of the longest season vegetable crops grown in an annual production system. It is important to know the botanical relationships of root crops because similar pests will go to related plants. Root crops come from at least five botanical families. Within those family groups you can expect similar pests. In this guide we try to provide some precision to this. However, when using pesticides, you must abide by the EPA Crop Groupings on pesticide labels. Amaranthaceae, the Goosefoot family, contains Beets classified as "root and tuber vegetables" in EPA Crop Group 1. The pests of plants in this family are shared with Spinach and Swiss chard (EPA Crop group 4) in the Leafy Greens and Herbs chapter. Apiaceae, the Carrot family, contains Carrots, Celeriac, and Parsnips classified as "root and tuber vegetables" in EPA Crop Group 1. But this family also includes Celery, Cilantro, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Florence Fennel, and Parsley (EPA Crop Groups 4 and 19). The pests of plants in this family are shared with the Celery, and Leafy Vegetables and Herbs chapters. Brassicaceae, the Mustard family, contains Horseradish, Radish, Rutabaga, and Turnip classified as "root and tuber vegetables" in EPA Crop Group 1. But, this family also includes cole crop and mustard-type plants (EPA Crop Groups 4 and 5). The pests of plants in this family are shared with the Cole Crops and Brassica Leafy Greens, and Leafy Vegetables and Herbs chapters. Convolvulaceae, the Morningglory family, contains Sweet Potato classified as a "root and tuber vegetable" in EPA Crop Group 1. Please refer to the Sweet Potato Chapter. Solanaceae, the Nightshade family, contains Potato classified as a "root and tuber vegetable" in EPA Crop Group 1. Please refer to the Potato Chapter. Planting, Spacing, and Harvesting Beet Sugar beets, table beets, and Swiss chard are all the same species (Beta vulgaris) bred for different purposes. Table beets come in red, striped, white, and gold. They are typically round, but there are some longer shaped beets that are utilized for slicing and pickling. Most beet varieties are multigerm types that grow multiple plants from one seedball. There are monogerm beet varieties, such as Solo and Moneta. Beets can be direct-seeded in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant 6 to 12 seeds per foot of row, depending on sprout count and desired size. Seed 8 to 10 pounds per acre for bunching. Mechanical harvesters are common for beets, lifting them from their tops, or digging them with an undercutting chain conveyor. Some growers choose monogerm varieties for more reliable sizing in a one-pass harvest with machines. Other growers choose multigerm varieties and hand-harvest large "bully" beets first, allowing small "runts" to size up for later harvests. Time from seeding to harvest ranges from 50 to 60 days. Carrot and Parsnip Carrots (Daucus carota) and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) have similar production systems. There are five broad types of carrot varieties. Chantenay carrot types have short, girthy, sometimes globe shaped roots that do well in heavy soils. Danvers carrot types are typically diced processing carrots and are thinner, longer, and more cone shaped than Chantenays and require the longest time to maturity. Imperator carrot types are good fresh market carrots that have long and slender roots with a higher sugar content; they require loose and deep soils. Nantes carrot types are good multi-market carrots for processing and fresh market with a more cylindrical root than Danvers, but girthier than Imperators, and an earlier maturation time than Imperators or Danvers. These four types all include orange, yellow, red, purple, and white varieties. The parsnip is a white-rooted plant related to carrots. Parsnip varieties differ in their size and time to harvest, but most are shaped like Danvers carrots. Carrots and parsnips can be direct-seeded in single rows 16 to 30 inches apart, or in three-row beds with 10 to 12 inches between rows and 36 inches between beds, center to center. Plant 20 to 30 per foot for slicing/fresh market; 10 to 20 plants per foot for dicing. Seed 2 to 4 pounds per acre. Both mechanical and hand harvest is common and starts when roots are of suitable size for the market between August and November. Undercutting chain-conveyor harvesters are more likely to break roots than top-puller harvesters. Time from seeding to harvest ranges from 60 days for baby carrots to 120 days for parsnips and full-size Danvers type carrots. Parsnips can be harvested up to freeze-up and continued as soon as soils can be worked in the spring.

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