Rape and Turnips
Rape and Turnips are two types of short season brassicas and they have a 60-90 growing season so we plant them in late July to early August in the Midwest. There are many varieties of rape and turnip; each bread for a different purpose.
Rape plants are forage only without the big roots turnips have. These are great to include in a mix with turnips as deer will browse on the rape leaves while the turnips will be developing their roots.
Rape – PROS
Rape is usually one of the first brassicas that deer will begin feeding on and seed is reasonable at $1 to $3 a pound.
Rape – CONS
Rape does not have a long tap root so is generally not capable of breaking up hard soils nor does it have any ability to store nitrogen.
These crops grow very fast, reaching near maximum production levels in 80 to 90 days. There are many varieties of turnips available and some are bred for root production and some for their forage. Studies have shown that turnips can accumulate dry matter in October as fast as field corn does in August. This is quite the accomplishment for something to grow that fast “out of season” (October/November) which makes turnips a valuable crop for late fall grazing.
Turnips – PROS
Turnip tops are often the last to be grazed until deer adapt to feeding on the turnip tops although many hybrids such as Appin and Pasja are more palatable and attractive. The positive attribute about turnips is the ability to grow a large bulbous root that deer will feed on long after other crops are gone.
Turnips – CONS
Turnips do have a tap root that can extend down several feet but the bulk of the root is a softball sized bulb that often pushes itself out of the ground rather than drilling deeper. Thus it doesn’t have the soil building capabilities of radishes.
Pasja turnip are hybrids bred primarily for forage rather than root production. Barkant turnips are bred for root production. Purple Top turnips are a dependable and economical turnip with great root production but not as highly sought after forage production.