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Crop Advice Directory: Swedes and Turnips


Swedes and Turnips


Brassica rapa


Swedes and turnips are a popular vegetable crop in Scotland and comprise an important component of the traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties. In Scotland in 2011, 1,614 hectares were grown for human consumption (shopping swedes). Swedes and turnips are also an important crop for animal feed (fodder) and in 2011, 4,405 hectares were grown in Scotland for this purpose. (The Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture 2011)

The crop is sown in May and is ready for harvest from September. It can also be left in situ for grazing over winter. Crop management for shopping swedes starts with a pre-sowing check of the soil for clubroot. This disease affects a wide range of brassica crops, but the cosmetic blemishes are unnaceptable for this market.

During the growing season, powdery mildew and downy mildew can affect the leaves. Phoma dry rot, crater rot (Rhizoctonia sp) and bacterial soft rots can all affect the bulbs, causng extensive losses in yield and quality. The primary pest to affect the crop is cabbage root fly. The loss of pesticides in recent years means that high value crops are covered in fleece to prevent the flies laying their eggs in the soil next to the swedes. It is the larvae which cause the damage to the roots.




Clubroot, or finger & toe is a soil borne fungal disease which attacks the roots of brassicas including oilseed rape, swedes, calabrese, cauliflowers and cabbage. More...
Sclerotinia can attack a wide range of crops, including oilseed rape, potatoes, peas, beans, carrots and lettuce. Crops which are unaffected include grasses and cereals. More...