Turnip belong to the brassica family. It is a fast establishing biennial leafy plant with an edible bulb. Used primarily in forage and food plots, turnips are also an effective cover crop species able to scavenge excess nutrients. They are somewhat winter-hardy, requiring extended temperatures below freezing to terminate.
The most common type are purple top, referring to the purple color of the part of the bulb which protrudes above the ground. Purple tops are fast growing, reaching maturity with 50-80 days. With a high sugar content, rich in protein, easily digestible, and resistant to light frost, they are very useful for fall food plots and late fall grazing and winter stockpiling.
With protein levels over 20%, turnips can be a beneficial part of the livestock diet. However, since they have very little fiber content, turnips and other brassicas should remain below 75% of the diet of grazing livestock. Other potential risk can occur if improperly grazed and livestock managers should check with local extension to learn more about the risks associated with grazing brassicas before planting.
Purple top turnips are very popular for use in deer plots. They provide high levels of protein and energy. Deer and other wildlife will eat both the leafy foliage and the turnip bulb. Once frost hits, turnips lose some of their bitterness, becoming sweeter and more desirable.
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Purple top turnips prefer more fertile, loamy soil. Performance will not be optimal under heavy clay, wet, and poorly drained soil.