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Cover Crop Series: Purple Top Turnips

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Each month we've been highlighting a different cover crop species, sharing information about how you can grow them, and what challenges or benefits they offer. This month's cover crop is Purple Top Turnips!

Purple Top Turnip Cover Crop
Purple Top Turnip Cover Crop


  • Should be planted from April 15 to September 15 north of interstate 94.

  • High seed count per lb of 200k seed per pound Seeding rates vary based on whether it's incorporated or aerially seeded, but should be around 2lbs/acre

  • Wait to plant until soil is 45 degrees, leaving ample time for turnips to reach full potential before they winterkill when soil reaches 20 degrees


  • Part of the brassica family; related to mustards found in Western Asia & Europe as wildtypes By 1881 turnips were being grown throughout the world

  • Reach maximum production levels between 70 to 90 days

  • Quick growth makes turnips a great crop to plant a bit later into the season than many other cover crops


Reduce Compaction, Provide Nutrients

  • The large roots of the turnips make it excellent at breaking up compaction, and scavenging for nutrients.

Crop Breakdown

  • When turnips winterkill, biomass breaks down and releases nutrients into the zone of cash crops.


  • When given enough time for growth, purple top turnips are an excellent grazing species for both livestock and wildlife; typically between May and August depending on the the weather.

Interested in learning more about crops or find info on how to get started? Visit our Cover Crops page, or Contact our Environmental Services team at

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