Root crops (radish, beets, turnip) rising out of soil.

jimster(z7a MA)September 30, 2009

My root crops often rise out of the soil, leaving the "bulb" part wobbling about atop the tap root and flopping over. Needless to say, they don't develop well when that happens.

I wonder if this has something to do with sandy soil not anchoring the plants well.

I've tried hilling up, which is tedious and not totally effective. I'm now trying deeper planting of the seed. Early resulta seem to be so so.

Any suggestions about the cause and a cure?


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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Jim: I've grown lots of root crops with no such problems. But this was mostly on clay loam soils. Do you think it might help if you planted in a furrow? This would tend to cause the soil to fill in around the crown.

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 3:48PM
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Jim, If I understand you correctly, The bulbing such as it is is taking place above the soil line. The only time I experience this is when the soil temps are high. Planted too early this fall, rutabagas and radishes are showing this behavior. Seldom have the problem with spring planting.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 4:34PM
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Farmerdilla, you're spot on. I never have problems with the spring, but my radishes and other bulbing crops are out of the soil and just yucky tasting. Only bulbing crop doing well for me are my black radishes.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 5:21PM
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That is OK. Some radishes (like Chinese ) will stick out quit a bit. It might be aproblem if it is hot but not in the cool/cold weather in the fll and winter.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:01PM
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I have this same problem... now that others have mentioned it, my radishes and carrots did fine this spring, while beets languished this summer, bobbling around on top of my >also sandy

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 10:00AM
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Perfectly normal for your root crops to rise above the ground. Means they are ready or close to be harvested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Urban Farmer Seeds

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 10:06AM
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When my beets are ready to be pulled in the fall, they are practically sitting on the top of the soil. Drying is usually not a significant problem because of the foliage canopy cover. However, if their tap roots are coming all the way out of the soil, that sounds like you have a settling of the soil as it dries and warms. For next year, I would incorporate organic matter and double dig the bed.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 10:19AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Thanks, folks. Lots of good thoughts there based on your experience. I've never seen this issue addressed before, though it's been bugging me for a long time and apparently has bothered others too.

So long as the "bulb" portion of the root is at least partially embedded in the ground, they do OK. It's only when they sit loose on the surface that the plant can't grow properly. With onions, of course, there is never a problem as they have a different kind of root system.

The first half of my gardening life was spent gardening in loamy clay, which formed my ideas as to what is "normal". In the second half I hope to master sandy soil. It is challenging, but nice and easy to dig.

The trench idea sounds sensible, as do the soil ammendment and temperature comments.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 2:19PM
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That's strange, Jim. We must have pretty similar soil profiles, but I havn't noticed what you describe in any significant degree. Except, now that I think of it, with beets during hot dryish weather.

How are your parsnips this year? My weedy self-seeded parsnips really went bonkers with all the rain, many fewer than usual bolted in early summer. I won't be able to eat or give away a fraction of them.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 7:38AM
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It has nothing to do with the soil type or temperature, I think. It is just the habbit of some root crops. The part of the root crops that get nutrients from soil is way down. The exposed part will be little green but still edible. Onions are similar. Actually, it is better if more on the onion bulb is exposed. This way they will get bigger. However, it is different story with potatoes. They are not roots but rather fruits. And if exposed to light will get green, bitter and possibly toxic (Only the green portion).
Last year I had fall-planted some chinese and Korean radishes. The chinese were sticking out about 2" out of the ground. But not thekoreans.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 7:08PM
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What about freezing early? Will the part out of the ground freeze? The temps are to be around 28° the next two nights and I don't want to harvest China Rose radishes, turnips, beets and kohlrabi. (I have a group of volunteers coming Wed.afternoon to harvest these for the food pantry.)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 11:21AM
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I don't know about beets but turnips and radishes can hold down to 15F, mabe lower.

There was something else before that I missed to respond.
That is , root crops, after have grown a few leaves, need to be deprived from water and get real thirsty, digging in to get moisture. Lanky stems on seedling is mainlay due to TOO MUCH water and warm weather.But sometimes you cannot conroll it because it keep raining right around the time that they should not be watered. The top of soil should be dry so the roots will go/grow deeper looking for moisture.

However, after the water-starvation period, they would need as much water as they can get to grow bigger and jucier.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:20PM
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Spring or fall, it doesn't seem to matter, (all the root crops we plant) produce beautiful tops, but the bulb never develops. Plants have a narrow root & never bulb out. We have typical Ga. clay soil that we have enriched with soil conditioner. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:20AM
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