Purple Top Turnips Failure...Again
Food Plots
Messages posted to thread:
CAMP DAVID 18-Oct-19
t-roy 18-Oct-19
JackPine Acres 19-Oct-19
CAMP DAVID 19-Oct-19
Pat Lefemine 19-Oct-19
Habitat for Wildlife 19-Oct-19
Ogoki 19-Oct-19
Hunt98 19-Oct-19
Junior 19-Oct-19
drycreek 19-Oct-19
buckhammer 19-Oct-19
skookumjt 19-Oct-19
ChasingFAHL 19-Oct-19
craig@work 20-Oct-19
Saphead 20-Oct-19
FrigidArrows 21-Oct-19
Diesel 22-Oct-19
Starfire 22-Oct-19
gobbler 22-Oct-19
FrigidArrows 23-Oct-19
Starfire 23-Oct-19
t-roy 23-Oct-19
sticksender 23-Oct-19
rmich10 30-Oct-19
BagginBigguns 30-Oct-19
Ambush 30-Oct-19
t-roy 30-Oct-19
Mark Watkins 19-Dec-19


CAMP DAVID's MOBILE embedded Photo

For the second year in a row my Purple Top Turnip plots have failed. Last year I think I applied too much seed and we had excessive rains.

This year, I reduced the amount of seed and the weather was perfect. Just enough rain.

I planted the plots on July 31st and spread lime and 5- 20-20.

During the month of August the plots looked magazine quality. Just super. Then September hit and they all of a sudden stunted. They didn't die right away...they just stopped growing. Grew to about 5"-6" and stopped.

Now they are dying with no indication of ANY bulb growth...( even on some of the more healthy ones).

Does anyone have a clue as to what is going on and what I may be doing wrong?

The thing that I thought it could be, but I don't know, is that the plots are on slopes. I wouldn't think that would make a difference but who knows.

Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help with this.

By: t-roy

More nitrogen needed would be my guess. How big is the plot and how many lbs/acre of seed did you plant?


Too much rain in September as well. More than likely you had standing water for a while under the plants and the ground still looks very saturated. Awful year for rain, couldn't buy 5 days in a row of sunshine this summer and fall. Rained too damn much every week.


It wasn’t too much rain this year. Precip. was ideal this year .


Mine too and I’m trying to understand why as well. Everything came up great except my purple tops. They look exactly like yours.


I would have said low nitrogen as well until Pat responded. He knows plots so I will wait to see what the experts chime in with.

By: Ogoki

Just my thoight. My family had greenhouses and 5 acres of produce. We would plant turnips at the end of August. Can still remember my Dad saying to me "" plant them thin , like you are wanting a poor crop" ". Always had purple top turnips to sell. On my northern Michigan food plots, i do the same. Always have turnips by October 1. If my seeding overlaps with my rye, the turnips are poor there.

By: Hunt98

I’m not an expert by any means, just throwing out ideas. Did you actually test the ph level? Are they still to many to many plants close together?? Crop rotation???

By: Junior

My buddy runs 300# of 19/19/19 per acre on his. I wouldn't worry to much as you still have the tops! They become more attractive the older they get, or after a frost. Lets older leaves have more time to convert more starch into sugars


I never was a turnip fan, as my deer won’t eat them, but it’s seems as though they are mighty thick.


If you didn't do a soil sample this past spring/summer it appears you need to do one.

Did you spread pellet lime or ag lime? Ag lime can take up to a year to balance the soil structure where as pellet lime can start to work as soon as you incorporate it into the soil.

If you have a local ag extension office I would stop by and see if an agent can come analyze your soil. These guys and gals can be very helpful.

Too much rain was not a factor this year for my turnips. I had close to 8 inches of rain at my farm here in Michigan in just the month of September and my turnips have never looked as good as they do this year. The tops are above knee high and the bulbs are much bigger than softball size.


There is no way of giving advice without a soil sample, that will give you the best help. There is no generic answer when it comes to what fertilizer or lime to apply. Every site is different and what works for one may hurt another. How many pounds per acre? Also possible that you planted too deep.


Soil tests are cheap and worth the $. Id recommend one just to figure exactly what you need to grow turnips. Whitetail Institute does one for $15ish and break down exactly what you need to add for each of their blends.


I have had minimal success with the purple tops also. Kale, rape, and forage radishes did well. I plan on just not planting the turnips any more anyway as the deer didn’t seem to like them but hit the others hard.


I planted the same at 5500 ft elevation in Wyoming 2 yrs ago . Didn't really expect much. They were huge perfect turnips. Bucks loved em. This year in Western South Dakota pretty good soil mine were the same as yours this year. Died and no bulbs. I'm suspecting they should be planted very thin. Like aboves post said. These wee thick Wyoming thin.


Brassicas need LARGE amounts of nitrogen. The plot in the picture looks starved. The most successful brassica plots I have seen had roughly 100 lbs. of nitrogen(200 lbs of Urea), per acre, added at planting, and then a boost if they started to yellow with no other notable cause before the end of their growing season.

By: Diesel

I can just about gaurantee you need more nitrogen. That may not be your only problem but 5-20-20 isn't going to give most turnip/brassica plots anywhere near the nitrogen they need. A soil sample will tell you exactly what that plot needs.


Mine did great this year and the deer are hitting them hard. Frigid Forage Big and Beasty with 250# of 19-19-19 and 150# Milorganite


Planting any brassica including turnips more than 2 years in a row can cause crop failure due to multiple diseases, fungi, etc that affects root system. Best to rotate crops


Great point gobbler, I forgot about that as well. Rotate Rotate Rotate. If all you have is one plot available, try switching to a cereal grain combo every other year, if fall attraction is what your after.


Starfire's embedded Photo

Here’s a pic of my field. You can see they have devastated the greens and are starting on the tubers.

By: t-roy

They’ve been pounding the crap out of mine early as well, Starfire. Hopefully I’ll still have some left, come January.


I’ve run into the same problem occasionally with turnips and with rutabagas in the past. For what it’s worth, Daikon radish seems to be less sensitive to planting density, nitrogen deficit, and disease. I’ve planted them multiple back to back years in the same dirt patch, with good results. They’re also more palatable to deer early in the season. Main drawback is they are not as winter-hardy as turnips.


rmich10's MOBILE embedded Photo

Mine pulled through 5 weeks of drought. PH was only 5.3 and 300 lb triple 19. Hit them with 100lb nitrogen 30 days after germination.


I'm 0 for 3 on attempts at turnips. I planted 1.5 lbs on a .75 acre plot, and it looks exactly like the OP's photo. The deer don't even sniff it.

By: Ambush

The turnips in my small bush plot look a lot like that, especially on the edge where the trees shade them and suck up all the water and nutrients. I'm also very careless with planting and actually negligent with soil conditions and fertilizer. But as soon as we get two or three hard frosts, the local mule deer does and fawns mow that plot right off in about five days. They rarely eat the bulbs, but I pull a few turnips and radishes and eat them in the blind.

By: t-roy

I had a little turnip bulb snack on the way back to my truck this morning too, Rod. Nutritious AND delicious!


THE BEST advice I ever got about food plots is to "think and act like a farmer!"

-soil tests, lime as needed, fertilize as needed.

Looks to me like your plants needed 300 lbs/acre of nitrogen at about the 30 day mark.

Pat, any more conclusions?


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