When to Plant Turnips for Deer? (Based on Zones)

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

when to plant turnips for deer

Do you want to attract deers to your yard? Or perhaps, you’re a farmer and want to try raising them instead of sheep or chickens?

Whatever the case, growing turnips is a smart thing to consider, as these vegetables are high in protein and especially appetizing to these hoofed animals.

But when to plant turnips for deer? The optimal time for this task is during early fall, though spring and summer are possible. Read on for further details.

Best Time to Plant Deer Turnips

1. In spring, summer, or fall


If you want to forage turnips for deer, it’s best to plant them in late summer if you live in a Northern location and early fall if you live in the South.

That said, outside of these two seasons, spring is also possible.

With these facts in mind, for both spring and fall planting periods, it’s vital to pay attention to the frost dates.

  • If you grow turnips in spring, the earliest time for sowing seeds is three weeks before the last frost.
  • Similarly, fall planting should happen outside of icy weather. Look up the first frost day for your location and subtract the maturation period of your turnips from said date. Then, you can decide when to grow them.

In general, turnips will mature in 55 days, though it’s best to check your seed package to be safe.

In the meantime, here are the average spring and fall frost dates for different locations in the United States, based on hardiness zones. To see specific estimates for your locality, go to almanac.com.

In addition, note that turnips grow in USDA zones 2 to 9. For information on your hardiness zone, type your address on planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/

Zone Examples of places in each zone Last frost First frost
2 Northwest Arctic, Yukon-Koyukuk, and Bettles in Alaska mid-May to May 22 First week of September
3 Bagley, Bigfork, and Grand Falls in Minnesota Within the first half of May September 8 – September 15
4 McLean, Dunn, and most places in North Dakota April 24 – May 12 September 21 – October 7
5 Clare, Isabella, and Montcalm in Michigan From April 7 to the end of the same month October 13 – 21
6 Taylorville, Mount Vernon, and Charleston in Illinois April 1 – April 21 October 17 to end of October
7 Stoddard, Scott, and New Madrid in Missouri March 22 – April 3 October 29 to November 15
8 College Park, Athens, and Macon in Georgia March 13 – March 28 November 7 – November 28
9 Zavala, Dimmit, and Webb in Texas February 6 – end of February November 25 to December 13

2. When the temperature is right


Cold weather is important for turnips, as their bulbs develop best when the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or so.

However, before the plant gets to that stage of development, the seeds should have the right temperature for sprouting, which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

These are some of the reasons why fall is the best season for growing turnips. The other explanation is that deer don’t tend to eat this root veggie in spring and summer.

In fact, these animals prefer turnips to endure a little cold and get sweeter first before consuming them once winter arrives.

3. When the soil has the right conditions


Before you grow turnips for deer food plots, check the pH of your soil. Specifically, it should have a pH of 6 to 6.5. Otherwise, the plants may not thrive like you want them to.

Because turnips don’t grow well in a hard clay ground, add compost to your garden bed if you have this sort of soil.

Furthermore, apply a 5-5-5 fertilizer as well, which has 5 parts nitrogen, 5 parts phosphorous, and the same amount of potassium.

Finally, make sure to loosen the soil at a depth of at least 12 inches.

Other Tips on Growing Turnips for Deer


  • It’s a good choice to plant Purple Top turnips for deer, as this variety is well-loved by them, and you won’t have to coax these animals into eating. In fact, this cultivar is recommendable for whitetail
  • Turnips don’t do well as transplants, so it’s best to grow them from seeds.
  • Because seedlings need 4 inches of space between each other, don’t put them too close together. Also, there should be 12 inches between two turnip rows at the minimum.
  • At the same time, give this vegetable an inch of water per week. In terms of placement, partial sunlight may be okay, but full sunshine is optimal.
  • It’s not rare to see people plant turnips and radishes for deer in tandem. Both of these vegetables can endure cold temperatures, making them excellent food sources for deer in the winter.

In general, you can grow these plants from late July to September.

Why Are Turnips So Good for Deer?


Do deer eat turnip greens? The obvious answer is yes. They love to consume the leafy top of this plant, and not just because of the taste. Turnips have nutrients that benefit these hoofed animals.

Protein, for example, can help develop antlers in male deer and aid lactation in female ones.

Moreover, turnips contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which support bone growth, metabolism, and reproduction in deer.


When to plant turnips for deer? We hope you now know the answer. The best time for growing turnips is in autumn, though spring and summer are also possible.

As long as you pay attention to the frost dates, the ambient temperature, and the soil pH, you should have no trouble narrowing down your planting time.

Hopefully, you can create a nice food plot with healthy turnips for deer. Thank you for reading.

You also can refer to growing other plants for deer such as winter rye, fall food plots, etc.

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