Turnip plant

Scientific name

Brassica campestris var. rapa


Vigourous summer growing fodder crop with excellent feeding value; high leaf to stem ratio.


Sensitive to several common insect pests.

Plant description


Leafy, plant 0.6-1.2 m tall; swollen stem forms an edible bulb at base; deep tap root. Some varieties regrow to allow 1-3 repeat grazings.


Varies with variety from large to small and from bulbs that sit well into the ground (suited to storing for late grazing) to those that are more accessible early/mostly out of the ground.


Large, flat leaves, 30-50 cm long and 20-40 cm) wide; yellow, cross-shaped flowers with four petals; and all produce sickle shaped pods containing tiny round seeds.


Yellow, cross-shaped flowers with four petals; produce sickle shaped pods.


Pods contain tiny round seeds.

Pasture type and use

Sown in spring adjacent to a run-off pasture to provide summer grazing in ~3 months time. Some varieties can be managed to provide bulbs that will allow grazing through winter; some can provide leaf for early grazing and their bulbs can be grazed later.

Often used as a pioneer crop or to provide weed control and soil preparation prior to renovating with perennial pasture. Useful as a break crop after cereal.

Where it grows


> 550 mm or irrigation.


Tolerates a broad pH range. Some varieties are unsuited to soil with low fertility. Ensure Mo and B not deficient.


Some varieties are well able to withstand heavy frost and retain leaf.


Turnip plant flower

Companion species

Herbs:Plantain, chicory.

Legumes: white clover, red clover.

Sowing/planting rates as single species

0.5 – 2 kg/ha. A low rate encourages good bulb development and enables delayed grazing into winter. A high rate aids rapid early yield and a high leaf:bulb ratio. Sow shallow (5-10 mm) in a finely worked firm, moist seedbed, cover with roller/mesh. Only suitable for direct-drilling in friable soil.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

1-2 kg/ha

Sowing time

From August through spring.


Not applicable.


Sow with ~20 kg P/ha as triple super or MAP/DAP. Ensure molybdenum and boron adequate. Molybdenum coated seed is available.


Turnip plants

Maintenance fertliser

Nitrogen (50 kg N/ha) maybe applied at 4 weeks.


Do not Graze when immature. Where yield is high, strip-graze dairy cattle along a long front – to minimize trampling losses. A back fence may maximise regrowth. Use a maximum 33% in the diet of dairy cows – 100% OK for lambs. Beef cattle OK up to 70%. Allow access to pasture/stubble, hay/silage for fibre.

Major pests

Not as vulnerable as rape. Red-legged earth mite, slugs, Aphis, cabbage moth, cabbage white butterfly, diamond black moth, cutworms, lucerne flea, wingless grasshoppers and leafminers. Insecticide coated seed is available to aid establishment.

Major diseases

No information.

Herbicide susceptibility


Animal production

Sheep grazing on Turnips

Feeding value

Excellent – low fibre is associated with a high rate of digestion which facilitates a high intake. ME approx 12 MJ/kg DM.


Readily acceptable.

Production potential

Up to 16 t DM/ha where moisture is available and soil fertility is high.

Livestock disorders/toxicity

Vaccinate and drench before grazing stock on Brassica. Monitor stock frequently. Red water/kale anaemia can occur especially where soil sulphur levels are high. Scouring, and nitrate poisoning (especially if molybdenum is deficient and/or if overcast conditions prevail). Avoid sudden and unrestricted access; do not provide Brassica crops as the sole ration straight off scarce/low quality pasture. Provide good source of water. Begin 1-2 hr access daily and take 7-10 days before reach maximum allowance.


Group Cultivar Seed source/Information
Early Vertus 69 Stephen Pasture Seeds
Samson AusWest Seeds
Seed Force NZ
Marco (4n) Stephen Pasture Seeds
Appin Wrightson Seeds
AusWest Seeds
York Globe AusWest Seeds
New York PGG Seeds
Mid Barkant Wrightson Seeds
AusWest Seeds
Barabas (4n) AusWest Seeds
Polybra Smyth Seeds
AusWest Seeds
Civasto Smyth Seeds
Rival Stephen Pasture Seeds
PGG Seeds
Vollenda AusWest Seeds
Late Australian Purple Top PGG Seeds
Mammoth Purple Top Stephen Pasture Seeds
Green Globe Wrightson Seeds
White Star Seed Force NZ

(4n) = tetraploid

Author and date

K Reed

December 2008