Farm Store | articles | When to Harvest

When to Harvest

Vegetable Seed Guide

To get the best taste, texture and cooking quality, vegetables should be harvested at optimum maturity. This chart indicates the best stage of growth to harvest. Another aid to planning a successful garden is the “Days to Maturity” date printed on each seed package and in this guide. This is based on normal growing conditions and will indicate how many days until the plant reaches optimum maturity.

Vegetable Part Eaten Too Early Optimum Maturity Too Late
Artichoke, Globe Immature bloom Small flower buds When buds are 2" to 4" in diameter Large buds with loose scales or bracts
Asparagus Stem Insufficient length 6" to 8" long; no fiber Excess woody fiber in the stem
Beans, Lima Seed Insufficient bean size Bright green puffy pod; large seed Yellow pods
Beans, Pole Green Pod and seed Insufficient size Bean cavity full; seed ¼ grown Large seed; fibrous pods
Beans, Snap Bush Pod and seed Insufficient size Turgid pods; seeds just visible Fibrous pods; large seed
Beets Root and leaves Insufficient size Roots 2" to 3" in diameter Pithy roots; strong taste
Broccoli Immature bloom Insufficient size Bright green color;
bloom still tightly closed
Loose head;
some blooms beginning to show
Brussels Sprouts Head Insufficient size;
hard to harvest
Bright green; tight head Loose head;
color changes to green-yellow
Cabbage Head Insufficient leaf cover Heads firm; leaf tight Loose leaf; heads cracked open
Cantaloupes Fruit Stem does not want to separate from fruit Stem breaks away easily
and cleanly when pulled
Yellow background color; soft rind
Carrots Root Insufficient size ½" to ¾" at shoulder Strong taste; oversweet
Cauliflower Immature bloom Head not developed Compact head; fairly smooth Curds open; separate
Celery Stems Stem too small Plant stands 12" to 15" tall; medium-thick stem Seed stalk formed; bitterness
Collards Leaf Insufficient leaf size Bright green color; small midrib Large midrib; fibrous
Corn, Sweet Grain Grain watery; small Grain plump; liquid in milk stage Grain starting to dent;
liquid in dough stage
Cucumber Fruit Insufficient size Dark green skin; soft seeds Skin beginning to yellow; hard seeds
Eggplant Fruit Insufficient size High glossy skin;
side springs back when mashed
Brown seeds;
side will not spring back when mashed
Lettuce, Head Leaves Head not fully formed Fairly firm; good size Heads very hard
Okra Pod Insufficient size 2" to 3" long; still tender Fiber development; tough pods
Onions, Dry Bulb Tops all green Tops yellow; ¾ fallen over All tops down; bulb rot started
Peas, English Seed Peas immature and too small to shell Peas small to medium;
sweet bright green
Yellow pods; large peas
Peas, Southern (green) Seed and pod Peas immature and too small to shell Seeds fully developed but still soft;
soft pods
Hard seeds; dry pods
Pepper, Pimiento Pod Insufficient size Bright red and firm Shriveled pod
Pepper, Red Bell Pod Chocolate-colored pods Bright red and firm Shriveled pod
Potato, Irish Tuber Insufficient size When tops begin to die back Damaged by freezing weather
Potato, Sweet Root Small size; immature Most roots 2" to 3" in diameter Early plantings get too large and crack; damaged by soil temperature below 50°F
Rhubarb Stem Small size; immature Stem 8" to 15" long is best Fleshy stem becomes fibrous
Soybeans Seed Seeds not developed Thick pods; bright green Dry pods; seed shatters out
Squash, Summer Fruit Insufficient size Rind can be penetrated with thumbnail Penetrating with thumbnail is difficult;
large seed
Squash, Winter Fruit Soft rind Rind difficult to penetrate
with thumbnail
Damaged by frost
Tomatoes Fruit May be harvested in three stages:

Mature green – tomato is firm and mature, color changes from green to light green, no pink color showing on blossom end. These tomatoes will store one to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Pink – pink color about the size of a dime on the blossom end. At room temperature, these tomatoes will ripen in about three days.

Ripe – tomato is full red but still firm. Should be used immediately.
Watermelon Fruit Green flesh; green stem is difficult to separate Melon surface next to the ground
turns from a light straw color
to a richer yellow
Top surface has a dull look

*Disclaimer: This guide contains recommendations for the mid-atlantic and south eastern regions of the United States. Climate and dates may vary per year. Be sure to verify weather conditions for your area. A climate zone map can typically be found at your local county extension office. You can also contact your local Southern States for advice and information on growing your garden.

Back to Seed Guide Home
Find All of the Seeds You Need at Southern States
Start Shopping

Related Products

More Products Like This:
Grid View
List View
  • Potato Kennebec 1 lb

    SKU 02180211
    Perfect for culinary needs, the Kennebec Potato features a medium maturity rate with a high yield of large oblong tubers. You can tell these potatoes apart from others because of their white skin and white flesh. Their specific gravity ranges from 1.075 to 1.100. Excellent for baking, boiling, chipping and frying. Price above represents a per pound price for a 50 lb. bag.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Potato Red Pontiac 1 lb

    SKU 02180271
    Red Pontiac Potato features a late maturity and is a mid-season table stock with a high yielding return and medium specific gravity. Tubers are round to oblong with medium deep eyes, dark red skin, sometimes netted and white flesh. This seed is drought tolerant but susceptible to potato virus Y, bruising and scab. Price above represents a per pound price for a 50 lb. bag.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Potato Yukon Gold 1 lb

    SKU 02180421
    Yukon Gold Potato features a medium maturity, mid-season table stock and yellow flesh. Guaranteed to produce a high yield with a high specific gravity. Tubers are oval with shallow pink eyes and a yellowish-buff skin. Susceptible to scab but resistant to potato virus A and potato leaf roll virus. Price above represents a per pound price for a 50 lb. bag.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Purple-Top White Globe Turnip

    SKU 02020332
    The classic turnip. Purple-Top White Globe Turnips have medium-large tops, are dark green and erect. Root is 4" to 5" in diameter and globe shaped. Frost adds flavor, keeps well, and matures in 55 days.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Potato Red Norland 1 lb

    SKU 02180291
    Excellent for boiling and frying, the Red Norland Potato 1 lb Bag features an oblong tuber, smooth and flattened shape, and a medium red color. This seed is widely accepted and has an early maturity rate. Price above represents a per pound price for a 50 lb. bag.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Onion Yellow 1 lb

    SKU 02180010
    Price above represents a per pound price for a 32lb bag. Onion Sets, or "baby" onions, are used to grow green and/or dry onions. Taking about 4 to 5 weeks to mature, plant these seeds in your garden in either late fall or early spring to achieve green onions. If left in for the full 90-day maturity period, you will have dry onions in late July or early August.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Blue Lake Bean 274

    SKU 02040611
    Blue Lake Bean 274 is a lush, high-yielding bush bean with 5" to 5-1/2 " long dark green pods. This particular variety matures slowly in 61 days and is fiber-free, making it a tender and flavorful addition to the garden.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Dwarf Siberian Kale

    SKU 02020144
    Dwarf Siberian Kale is perfect for home and market gardens, as well as freezing. This resilient and hardy plant stays low and spreads with large, thick leaves. Matures in 60 days.
    to see pricing & availability

Find Your Nearest Southern States Location

Sales & Offers