Both swedes and turnips belong to the brassica family (Cruciferae) and should therefore, if possible, be on the same rotational section as other brassicas. Both turnips and swedes are grown in a similar manner.

Swedes generally take about 24 weeks to mature, and are normally grown from a single sowing made in late April-May. Turnips take only 12 weeks, and are normally grown from successional sowings beginning in March.

Turnips may also be grown from a September sowing for their tops, which are cut and used like spring greens.



Earlv cultivars ‘Purple Top Milan’ ‘Jersey Navet’ ‘Snowball’ Flat-topped roots. Quick-maturing.

Cylindrical shaped roots.

Round variety with solid flesh and mild flavour

These early cultivars cannot be stored.

Main-crop Golden Ball’

Golden Perfection’ Dwarf, compact plants, round roots with yellow flesh.

The tops of this and of ‘Golden Ball’ can be used as a spring green.

Mature in October when they can be lifted and stored.



‘Marian’ Globe-shaped purple-top roots, yellow flesh. Resistant to club root and mildew.

Suttons’ ‘Western Perfection’ Quick-growing purple-topped roots with yellow flesh.

‘Acme Sweet yellow flesh.

Swedes may be left in the ground in winter.


Drills should be 12 mm (½°) deep and 38 cm (15 inch) apart Sowing date depends on cultivars used, e.g.:

Turnip Snowball Golden Ball’ Late March June/July – May

Swede Marian’ ‘Acme May May


As soon as seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out in stages. Final spacing should be 15 cm (6 inch) apart for early turnips, and 30 cm (12 inch) apart for main-crop turnips and swedes.

Swedes are generally grown at a plant population of 20/sq.m (16/sq.yd) early and turnips at 50/sq.m (42/sq.yd).

Hoe regularly to reduce weed competition.

Harvesting and Storage

Early turnips are generally not stored but used as soon as possible after lifting. They should be about the size of a golf ball when lifted.

Main crop turnips can be lifted in late October and stored in the same way as carrots.

Swedes are generally left in the soil until needed because of their hardiness.

Cut turnip tops grown for spring greens when they are 10 -15 cm (4 – 6 inch) high.


Cabbage aphid Distorted growth due to aphid sucking plant sap. Aphids also transmit virus diseases. Sprays of malathion, pirimicarb and dimethoate will give some control.

Cabbage root fly Small white maggots live in the soil and eat the roots. Plants wilt, especially in dry weather, and young plants may be killed. Sowing when adult flies are not in evidence, rapid plant growth and timely harvesting will all help to minimise damage. The most effective control is obtained by applying chlorfenvinphos or chlorpyrifos to the soil at sowing or at the two-leaf stage.

Cutworms Feed on leaves and stems. The stems are often severed at ground-level. Control measures taken for cabbage root fly will also give protection against this pest.

Flea beetles (Phyllotreta spp.) Adult flea beetles are common and widespread and feed on leaves and stems. Entire crops of swedes and turnips may be destroyed, especially in dry sowing conditions, when seedling emergence is slow. Carbofuron will give control.

Club root


brassica) Symptoms show as tumour-like swellings and distorted roots. The roots may decay prematurely and finally deteriorate into a putrid mass. Before sowing treat the soil with cresylic acid.

Some cultivars of swedes, e.g. Marian1, Sator’, ‘Seefelder’ have a certain level of resistance to the disease.

The following turnip cultivars have some degree of resistance: ‘Findlay’, ‘Marco’, ‘Jobe’ and Rekord’.

Long rotations between crops should be practised. Poor drainage and weed removal should be rectified to prevent survival of the pathogen.

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