Iowa State University
INDEX A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Vegetable Harvest Guide

This article was published originally on 7/23/2004

Harvesting vegetables at the right stage of maturity ensures the best taste and quality. Many vegetables should be picked throughout the summer to maintain plant productivity. The time, frequency, and method of harvesting vary depending on species. Vegetables, such as standard sweet corn, have a very small harvest period. Others, such as many of the root crops, can remain in the garden for several weeks with little effect on their taste. Some vegetables, like summer squash, have to be harvested almost daily. Other plants, such as tomatoes, can be harvested on a weekly basis. Use the table below to determine the optimal time to pick and enjoy your favorite vegetables.

Vegetable Harvest Guide

Vegetable

Days to Maturity

Size

Color

Comment

Beet

50-70

2-3 in diameter

red, varies with cultivar

Up to 1/3 of the beet foliage can be harvested for greens without harming the root.

Broccoli

50-65*

6 to 7 across

blue-green

Harvest before yellow flower buds start to open, side shoots can be harvested after main head is removed.

Cabbage

60-90*

varies with cultivar

green, red

Harvest when heads are large and solid.

Carrot

60-80

3/4 in diameter

orange

Harvest when orange shoulder pushes through the soil.

Cauliflower

55-80*

6 to 8 across

creamy white

Blanch heads when 2-3 across by carefully tying leaves over heads.

Cucumber

Pickling

55-65

2-4 long

dark green

Harvest plants every 2 to 3 days, leave small piece of stem attached to fruit.

Slicing

55-65

6-8 long

dark green

1 to 2 diameter, harvest plants every 2 to 3 days.

Eggplant

75-90*

varies with cultivar

purple, white, green

Fruit should have shiny finish.

Garlic

90**

2-3

white, reddish purple

Harvest when foliage topples over and dries or just before first frost.

Kohlrabi

55-70

2-3 diameter

green

Store with leaves and roots removed.

Lettuce (leaf)

45-60

4-6 long

green

Harvest outer leaves, hot weather causes bitterness.

Muskmelon Cantaloupe

75-100

5-10 in diameter

yellow-tan between netting

When mature, stem separates easily from melon.

Okra

50-65

3 long

bright green

Harvest frequently to maintain productivity.

Onion

100-120 90-100**

varies with cultivar

white, yellow, red

Harvest when tops fall over and begin to dry.

Parsnip

110-130

8-18" long

white or cream

Can be overwintered in the ground, mulch and dig before new growth starts in spring.

Peas

Snow (Sugar)

55-85

3 long pods

bright green

Harvest when pods are long and thin, just as the seeds begin to develop.

Snap

55-85

3 long pods

bright green

Pick when seeds are nearly full size.

Garden (Shell)

55-85

3 long pods

bright green

Harvest when peas are full size.

Pepper

Hot

60-90*

1 to 3 long

red, purple, yellow, green

Use gloves when harvesting.

Sweet

70-90*

2 to 4 in diameter

green, red, yellow, purple, orange

Usually harvested when green, but can be left on plant until red, orange, yellow or purple.

Potato

90-120

varies with cultivar

varies with cultivar

Dig when tops turn brown and die.

Pumpkin

85-120

varies with cultivar

orange

Harvest when uniformly orange, leave 3-4 of stem.

Radish

Spring

25-40

1/2 to 2 in diameter

red, white, varies

Radishes larger than 2 in diameter are often pithy and unusable.

Winter

45-70

6-12 long

white, varies

Can be left in the ground until frost.

Snap Bean (Green Bean)

50-70

4 to 6 long

green, yellow, purple

Harvest when pods are pencil size in thickness.

Spinach

45-60

6-8 tall

green

Harvest the entire crop when plants begin to show signs of bolting.

Summer squash

Scallop

50-60

3 to 5 in diameter

yellow, green

Harvest when skin is soft.

Zucchini

50-60

6 to 12 long

green, yellow

Harvest every 2 to 3 days when fruit are 2 in diameter.

Sweet Corn

70-105

5 to 10 , varies with cultivar

yellow, white, bicolor

Mature kernels exude milky sap when punctured.

Sweet Potato

100-125

varies with cultivar

Gold or orange

Harvest just before or after a vine killing frost.

Tomato

70-90*

varies with cultivar

red, orange, yellow

Harvest fully ripe for best flavor.

Turnip

45-70

2-3 in diameter

white, reddish purple

Foliage can be harvested for greens.

Watermelon

80-100

varies with cultivar

light to dark green, striped

Harvest when 'belly' turns from white to creamy yellow.

Winter Squash

85-120

varies with cultivar

varies with cultivar

Rind should be hard and difficult to puncture with fingernail.

* from transplants

** from sets (bulbs)



This article originally appeared in the 7/23/2004 issue.

Year of Publication: 
2004
Issue: 
IC-491(18) -- July 23, 2004