How Do You Know When Beets Are Ready to Harvest: A Beginners Guide

How Do You Know When Beets Are Ready to Harvest?

Beets are ready to harvest when their above “shoulders” look full-sized.

This typically occurs around 8-10 weeks for globe beet varieties, while cylindra beets can take up to 20 weeks to fully develop.

The tops of the beets should be at least an inch above the soil when harvested.

Beets can be harvested in early summer through to mid fall, depending on when they are sown.

They can be harvested at different sizes, from 1-2 inches in diameter for smaller beets to 6 inches or more for larger ones.

The leaves can also be harvested for use in salads and stir fries.

Beets can be stored in the garden after maturity for 2-3 weeks, and once harvested, the roots can be stored for up to a month near freezing with high humidity.

Key Points:

  • Beets are ready to harvest when their above “shoulders” look full-sized
  • Globe beet varieties are typically ready to harvest around 8-10 weeks, while cylindra beets can take up to 20 weeks
  • The tops of the beets should be at least an inch above the soil when harvested
  • Beets can be harvested in early summer through to mid fall, depending on when they are sown
  • Beets can be harvested at different sizes, from 1-2 inches in diameter for smaller beets to 6 inches or more for larger ones
  • The leaves of beets can also be harvested for use in salads and stir fries
  • Beets can be stored in the garden after maturity for 2-3 weeks, and once harvested, the roots can be stored for up to a month near freezing with high humidity.

Did You Know?

1. The leaves of beets actually provide a clue about their readiness for harvest. Once the leaves are around 2-4 inches in length, it indicates that the beets are ready to be harvested.

2. If you’re unsure whether the beets are ready, you can conduct a quick test by gently lifting one out of the ground to check its size. If it’s at least the size of a golf ball, it’s a good indication that the beets are ready for harvest.

3. One way to visually determine when beets are ready to be harvested is by inspecting their color. Mature beets typically exhibit a rich, vibrant color, especially when it comes to their greens. If the greens are deep green and the beets have a bright, saturated color, it’s a sign that they are ready for harvest.

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4. Another lesser-known method of evaluating beet readiness involves checking the beet’s skin. Once the skin becomes smooth, it indicates that the beets are approaching their optimal stage of ripeness.

5. Interestingly, beets tend to increase in sugar content as they reach maturity. Therefore, if you prefer a sweeter and more flavorful beet, make sure to allow them to fully mature before harvesting. Keep in mind that excessively large beets might be far too fibrous and not as enjoyable to eat!

Globe Beet Varieties: 8-10 Weeks To Harvest

Globe beet varieties, such as Di Chioggia, Avenger, and Sangria, typically take around 8-10 weeks to mature. These varieties are known for their rounded shape and are popular for their sweet flavor and versatility in cooking.

When growing globe beets, it is important to keep track of the planting date to ensure a timely harvest.

To determine when globe beets are ready to harvest, look for visual cues such as the size of their above “shoulders.” The shoulders refer to the part of the beet that is above the soil. Once this visible portion reaches its full size, the beets can be harvested. Generally, the shoulders should appear plump and well-rounded, indicating that the roots beneath have reached their optimal size.

Harvesting Based On Above “Shoulders” Size

When it comes to harvesting beets, keeping an eye on the above “shoulders” size is crucial. As the beets grow, they push up the soil and develop their above-ground portion. It is recommended to wait until the shoulders are at least an inch above the soil level, indicating that the roots have grown to a decent size.

However, it is important to note that beets can be harvested at different sizes, depending on personal preference. If you prefer baby or mid-sized beets, you can harvest them when they are 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) in diameter. On the other hand, if you desire larger beets, wait until they reach 6 inches (15cm) or more in diameter. Harvesting beets at different sizes allows for a variety of culinary uses, from small and tender beets suitable for salads to bigger beets ideal for roasting or pickling.

Cylindra Beets: 20 Weeks For Full Development

Cylindra beets, also known as Formanova beets, have a unique shape that sets them apart from their round globe counterparts. These beets are long and cylindrical, resembling a carrot more than a traditional beet.

Cylindra beets take a longer time to fully develop, typically requiring around 20 weeks from planting to harvest.

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Due to their elongated shape, cylindra beets are often used for pickling and preserving. The slender slices make them ideal for fitting into jars, creating beautiful layers of preserved beets.

When growing cylindra beets, it is important to be patient and allow them the necessary time to reach their full potential.

  • Cylindra beets are also known as Formanova beets.
  • They have a unique shape that sets them apart from round globe beets.
  • Their elongated shape resembles that of a carrot.
  • Cylindra beets take around 20 weeks to fully develop.
  • They are often used for pickling and preserving due to their slender slices.

Beet Storage After Maturity

Once beets have reached maturity and are ready for harvest, their storage becomes an important consideration. Luckily, beets are quite versatile and can be stored both in the garden and in other settings.

After harvesting, beet roots and greens can be stored in the garden for 2-3 weeks, providing convenient access to fresh produce during that time.

If longer-term storage is required, the roots can be stored for up to a month in a cool location near freezing temperatures. To maintain their freshness, it is crucial to store beets with high humidity. This can be achieved by placing the beets in a container with damp sand or peat moss, ensuring the roots do not dry out.

  • Beets can be stored in the garden for 2-3 weeks after harvest.
  • For longer-term storage, store beet roots in a cool place near freezing temperatures.
  • Maintain high humidity by storing beets in a container with damp sand or peat moss.

“Beets are versatile and can be stored both in the garden and in other settings.”

Harvesting Beets Based On Top Height Above Soil

To ensure optimal flavor and texture, it is recommended to harvest beets when their tops are at least an inch above the soil. This height allows the root to develop fully, resulting in a more substantial beet. However, it is worth mentioning that beets can also be harvested at an earlier stage for a sweeter and more delicate flavor. Harvesting beets earlier will yield smaller roots but with a higher sugar content.

When harvesting beets, it is also important to preserve the health of the plant. To do so, gently pull the beets from the ground, taking care not to damage their delicate roots. Additionally, the larger outer leaves of the beet plant can be harvested when they reach a height of 4-6 inches. It is recommended to leave at least 1 inch of leaf on the root to promote the plant’s continued growth and production.

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Knowing when beets are ready to harvest involves attentive observation and understanding of the specific beet variety. From globe beets that take 8-10 weeks to mature to cylindra beets that require 20 weeks for full development, timing is crucial. By keeping an eye on the size of the above “shoulders,” harvesters can ensure that the beets have reached their optimal size. Additionally, proper storage techniques allow for extended use and enjoyment of these nutritious and delicious root vegetables.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave beets in the ground too long?

Beets should be harvested in a timely manner to prevent them from becoming tough and woody. Leaving them in the ground for too long can compromise their texture and taste. To harvest, simply gather all the leaf stems together in one hand and gently pull upwards, ensuring a fresh and enjoyable beetroot experience.

How long can beets stay in the ground in garden?

Beets can remain in the ground until the soil freezes, allowing you to store them directly in the garden. By covering the plants with a layer of straw, typically 5 inches thick, you can prolong the harvest throughout the winter season. This method provides an efficient way to preserve your beets for an extended period without the need for immediate harvesting or storage.

Can you eat beets right after harvesting?

Yes, beets can be eaten right after harvesting. It is recommended to consume the best roots as damaged or bruised ones may not store well. Before storing the beets, gently remove soil from the roots but avoid washing them. If you do wash them, make sure to dry them thoroughly before consuming. By eating freshly harvested beets, you can enjoy their optimal freshness and flavor.

How big should I let my beets get?

The size of your beets depends on personal preference and intended use. As they grow quickly, it is important to keep a close watch to prevent them from becoming too large. Generally, beets that are bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a baseball are favored for their improved taste. However, it ultimately comes down to your own taste preferences and how you plan to utilize them in your recipes.

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