Dr. Joe Masabni
Department of Horticulture
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
The rutabaga is very similar to the turnip except that it generally has yellowish flesh and a more dense tap root with more side shoots. They are usually harvested at a larger bulb size. Unlike the turnip, the rutabaga has smooth, waxy leaves.
Rutabagas require the same growing conditions as the turnip — cool conditions for rapid growth and good quality. Plant in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. In the fall, multiple plantings can be made but should be stopped for the rutabaga root to form before extremely cold weather occurs. Rutabagas do better in the fall than in the spring because of the longer time needed to mature — about 30 to 45 days longer than turnips.
Mature rutabaga roots should be 4 to 6 inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes. Commercially grown roots are often waxed for storage purposes. Rutabagas are seldom sold with tops. If stored between 32o and 35oF. and at a humidity near 90 percent rutabagas will keep for 4 to 6 months. Waxed roots keep under refrigerated conditions for 1 to 2 months.