HARVEST VEGETABLES AT PEAK by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

The following list is helpful in harvesting vegetables at their peak of freshness. 

  • Asparagus: Harvest when spears are 6 to 9 inches tall.
  • Snap beans: Harvest while pods still are smooth.
  • Lima Beans: Harvest when pods are full but seeds are green.
  • Beets: Harvest when 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
  • Broccoli: Harvest before flowers show yellow color. Remove the center head, and allow side
    shoots to form and harvest them.
  • Cantaloupe: Harvest when melons can be removed from the vine without pressure.
  • Cabbage: Harvest when head is firm and heavy.
  • Cauliflower: Harvest before curd loosens and discolors. After head is removed, discard
    the plant.
  • Carrots: Harvest anytime roots are firm and brittle.
  • Corn: Harvest when kernel juice is milk-like in color, silk begins to dry and ears are full to end.
  • Cucumbers: Harvest while seeds are small, flesh if firm and color is green.
  • Eggplant: Harvest before color begins to dull, firm to touch.
  • Lettuce: Harvest while tender and milk-flavored before seed stalk begins to form.
  • Okra: Harvest when pods are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long.
  • Onions: For green bunching, harvest when bulbs are 3/8 to 1 inch in diameter. For storing,
    harvest after tops have died down.
  • English peas: Harvest after the pods have filled out before they turn yellow.
  • Sugar snap peas: Harvest after pods form but before yellowing.
  • Southern peas: For fresh or frozen use, harvest when pods shell easily. For drying, harvest after
    pods are dry and brittle.
  • Pumpkins: Harvest after they are full size.
  • Bell pepper: Harvest when pods are full size and firm.
  • Hot peppers: Harvest after pods reach full size.
  • Irish potatoes: For fresh use, harvest after tubers are 1 inch in diameter. For storage, harvest
    after vines have died down.
  • Sweet potatoes: Harvest after reaching desired size but before frost or cold weather, about 120
    days from planting to harvest.
  • Radish: Harvest while firm and brilliantly colored.
  • Summer squash: Harvest when large end is 1 to 2 1/4 inches in diameter.
  • Winter squash: Harvest when rind is not easily dented by fingernail.
  • Swiss chard: Harvest while leaves are crisp and dark green.
  • Spinach: Harvest while leaves are crisp and dark green.
  • Tomatoes: Harvest when full colored but still firm.
  • Turnip greens: Harvest while leaves are crisp and green.
  • Turnip roots: Harvest when 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
  • Watermelon: Harvest when tendrils die, rind on ground becomes yellow and netting thickens.


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