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Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. ssp. rapifera) (also swede) is a fodder agricultural crop, belongs to the group of fodder root crops.

Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. ssp. rapifera)
Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. ssp. rapifera)
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Economic importance

Rutabaga is considered a high-yielding, cold-resistant crop, unlike other root crops, it is less demanding on soil fertility.

Rutabaga roots contain 10-16% dry matter, including 5-10% carbohydrates, a small amount of protein, carotene, ascorbic acid and minerals.

Also, like other fodder root crops, it is a milk-producing feed.

The tops are used for fodder purposes in fresh and ensiled form, mixed with drier fodder, haylage and vitamin grass meal.

Cultural history

Rutabaga in the wild is unknown. The culture was introduced much earlier than potatoes.

The supposed place of origin of the culture is the Mediterranean. It came from a spontaneous crossing of kale and turnip , followed by a doubling of the number of chromosomes.

Cultivation areas

Rutabaga is not widely used in Russia. It is grown in small areas mainly in the southern taiga-forest zone and Western Siberia, as well as in private farms. It can be cultivated in the forest-steppe zone.

In the southern regions, swede does not tolerate heat and lack of moisture, and is more affected by pests.


The yield of swede on fertile loamy soils reaches 30-40 t/ha of root crops.

Under irrigation conditions, the yield increases by 1.5-2 times.

Botanical description

Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. ssp. rapifera Metzg.) is a biennial plant of the Brassicaceae family.

In the first year of life, plants form roots with simple, weakly and strongly dissected, large, fleshy, smooth leaves of dark green color with a wax coating, more than 60 cm long.

The shape of root crops is round, flattened-round, round-flat, oval and cone-shaped. The pulp of root crops is dense, yellow or white. The neck and head are well developed, so a significant part of the root crop is above the soil level.

The root crop is formed due to the hypocotyl knee (mainly) and the root itself. The root system penetrates to a depth of 1-1.5 m, extends to 40-50 cm in width, and is characterized by poor absorption capacity.

Varieties can also differ in the color of the upper part of the root crops – red-headed, green-headed and bronze-headed.

In the second year, a flower-bearing stem, branched at the top, is formed from the root crop, the height of which is 80-150 cm. Leaves of various shapes: basal – lyre-shaped, petiolate; stem – sessile.

The inflorescence is an elongated, simple, many-flowered raceme. The flowers are quaternary, yellow, cream or orange. The flower has 6 stamens and a pistil. Cross pollination.

The fruit is a multi-seeded pod with a spout that cracks when ripe. The seeds are small, rounded, black-brown, gray-black, brown-black or dark gray in color. Weight of 1000 seeds – 2.2-3.8 g.

Biological features

Temperature requirements

Rutabaga belongs to cold-resistant plants, makes moderate demands on heat, does not tolerate heat and drought.

Seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of 1-3 °C, uniform seedlings appear at 5-7 °C. Seedlings tolerate frosts down to -4 °C, adult plants – up to -5…-7 °C. A prolonged cold spring can provoke plants to flower. At soil temperature at the depth of seed sowing, seedlings appear in 4-5 days.

The optimum temperature for growth and development is 15-18 °C.

Moisture requirements

Rutabaga is a moisture-loving crop. The greatest need for water is observed during the rooting of seeds in the initial phases of growth, as well as at plantings. This period of culture is critical in terms of water needs.

Light requirements

Rutabaga is a light-loving plant with a long daylight hours.

Soil requirements

Cohesive, with a high content of calcium, non-acidic soils (pH 6-6.5), with good water-holding capacity, are preferred for swede crops. It tolerates heavy, excessively moist soils, drained peatlands (with the introduction of boron and copper microfertilizers) and plowed lands. Optimal are fertile floodplain and cultivated soddy-podzolic soils.

Withstands acidity up to pH 4.3. In a more acidic environment, branching of the roots and the growth of heads of root crops are noted.

Acidic soils are lime.

It is not recommended to grow on sandy soils.


The vegetation period in the first year of life is 110-130 days, in the second – 90-120 days.

Rutabaga sprouts bring to the surface of the soil green, wide, with a notch at the end of the cotyledon. In the cotyledon phase, the seedlings are indistinguishable from the turnip.

Crop rotation

It is desirable to place crops of rutabaga on lowered areas of the relief, where moistening conditions are better.

Rutabaga can be placed in field, vegetable and fodder crop rotations. The last near-farm crop rotations, due to their economic importance and economic feasibility, are the most preferable.

Fertilized winter, annual cereal-bean mixtures for hay and green fodder, leguminous, corn, perennial legumes of the 1st year of use, potatoes, silage crops are considered the best predecessors of swede in crop rotation.

In vegetable crop rotations, rutabaga is not placed after crops of the Cabbage family.

Areas infected with wireworm and remote from livestock farms are not suitable for cultivation.


1 ton of rutabaga roots and the corresponding amount of leaves removes 4 kg N, 2.5 kg P2O5, 7.5 kg K2O from the soil.

Organic fertilizers are applied under the predecessor, but if this was not done, then they are applied under autumn plowing in the amount of 30-40 t/ha. P40K60 is also added to the main fertilizer to obtain a root crop of 40-50 t/ha .

In the spring, N60-90P20K30 is applied for pre-sowing cultivation. The general application rate is 0.9-1.0 t/ha of mineral fertilizers. On podzolic soils N60-80P60-80K60-90 is recommended .

When sowing for better phosphorus nutrition of plants in the initial phases of development, it is recommended to use row fertilizer in the form of granulated superphosphate in the amount of 20-25 kg/ha.

Half of the nitrogen fertilizer (30 kg/ha) can be added to top dressing, which is carried out after thinning seedlings.

When growing rutabaga by cutting or stubble, the soil is fertilized with increased rates of fertilizer application due to the shortened feeding period, and the seeding rate must be increased by 10-15%.


Rutabaga responds well to early autumn tillage. Plowing is carried out depending on the thickness of the arable layer to a depth of 20-30 cm with plows with skimmers.

In areas of insufficient moisture, snow retention is carried out.

Spring tillage includes harrowing and plowing to close moisture and level the surface for uniform sowing of seeds. Cultivation may also be required before sowing. Heavy and floating soils are plowed in spring with plows with removed mouldboards or replaced by milling. Light soils are rolled before sowing (according to other sources, rolling before sowing is recommended on all soils).


Seed preparation

To treat seeds against ascochitosis, black leg, peronosporosis, phomosis, bacteriosis, olive spot, seed mold and black mold, TMTD is used. Processing is carried out 2-15 days before sowing or in advance.

Sowing dates

Very early sowing leads to an increase in the proportion of flowering plants.

The sowing of rutabaga begins simultaneously with the sowing of early spring cereals. Early sowing reduces ground flea damage to crops.

Seedlings are planted in the phase of 5-6 leaves with the help of transplanters in the prepared soil. It is advisable to plant on cloudy cool days or in the morning and evening.

Seeding methods

Rutabaga can be grown from seeds or seedlings. The seedling method of sowing is used to reduce the growing season, especially in the northern regions. In the southern regions, the seedling method is used when sowing as a mowing or stubble crop.

Seedlings are grown in cold nurseries in the same way as seedlings of late varieties of cabbage. For 1 hectare, 200-300 m 2 of nursery and 0.5-0.6 kg of seeds are needed.

For sowing seeds, vegetable seeders are used, for example, СОН-2.8, СКОСШ-2.8, СОН-2.8А, СО-4.2, СКОН-4.2.

For uniform sowing of seeds, it is possible to add to the seeds as ballast granulated superphosphate of a fraction of 2-4 mm and granulated phosphamide to combat the cruciferous flea at the rate of 2.5 kg of phosphamide and 20-25 kg of superphosphate per hectare seeding rate. Calcined millet seeds or dry sifted sawdust can also be used as ballast.

According to the experimental data of the Leningrad Agricultural Institute, it is possible to sow round-fruited rutabaga varieties at a given standing density. For this, it is recommended to sow up to 20 seeds per 1 meter of row.

Sowing is carried out in a wide-row way, the row spacing is 45, 60 or 70 cm. On soils with a shallow arable layer, as well as with excessive moisture, for example, in the northwestern regions of agriculture, swede is sown on ridges or ridges.

Seeding rates

The seeding rate for swede seeds is 1.5-2.7 kg/ha (according to other sources, 3-4 kg/ha), adjusted depending on the soil and climatic conditions and the weediness of the fields. With a high level of agricultural technology, the seeding rate can be reduced to 1.5 kg/ha without reducing the yield (All-Russian Research Institute of Forage named after V.R. Williams).

When using the dotted sowing method using calibrated coated seeds, the sowing rate is reduced to 0.5-0.8 kg/ha (LSHI).

When growing by cutting or stubble, the seeding rate is increased by 10-15%.

Seeding depth

Sowing depth 1-3 cm.

Crop care

Crop care includes:

  • post-sowing rolling (with rapid drying of the topsoil);
  • harrowing with light tooth or mesh harrows;
  • processing with rotary hoes or ribbed rollers during the formation of a soil crust;
  • ball to a depth of 4-6 cm;
  • 2-4 inter-row layer-by-layer loosening during the growing season to a depth of 8-12 cm.

To form the density of standing, thinning is carried out, which should form a density of 50-90 thousand/ha of plants. Depending on the density and uniformity of seedlings, for this, transverse harrowing of crops in the phase of 2-4 leaves is used using:

  • with a density of more than 30 plants per 1 m – with a net or light tooth harrow or bunching according to the scheme: a bunch of 20 cm, a cut of 40 cm, followed by harrowing by bouquets with mesh harrows and manual checking;
  • with a density of 20-30 shoots per 1 m – bouquet according to the scheme: cutout 40 cm, bouquet 20 cm or cutout 27 cm, bouquet 18 cm.

Harrowing on seedlings and bouquets is carried out carefully, in dry weather it is limited only to bunching. With uniform, non-thickened seedlings and fields clear of weeds, longitudinal thinners are used.

To control weeds in swede crops in the spring, pre-sowing treatment with ramrod is performed at a rate of 4-6 kg/ha a.i. Also, pre-emergence spraying of Butizan herbicides is used against annual grasses and dicotyledonous weeds.

To combat fleas and horseradish leaf beetle, spraying is carried out during the growing season with Actellik.


For harvesting rutabagas, separate harvesting is usually used. The leaves are cut using UBD-3A or KIR-1.5B haulm harvesters. The root crops are then dug up by potato diggers or converted potato harvesters. The use of the KGP-2 potato harvester for harvesting swede root crops increased labor productivity by 6 times compared to manual harvesting (Kholmogorka state farm, Volokolamsky district, Moscow region).

For cleaning, the ККГ-1.4 machine can be used.

Turnip leaves are well ensiled.


Rutabaga root crops are stored in ground heaps, trenches, storages. Storage temperature 1-2 °C, relative air humidity 85-95%.

Growing rutabagas for seeds

The uterine crops of swede should thicken up to 80-90 thousand uterine root crops per 1 ha, that is, 3-4 ha of testes. When harvesting, storing and planting uterine root crops, their wilting is not allowed.

The recommended planting pattern is 70×60 or 70×70 cm. Rutabaga can be planted under a plow or cultivator. The planting depth should cover the head of the root crop with 2-3 cm of soil. Rutabaga testes should be at least 2 km away from other areas of the Cabbage family in order to prevent cross-pollination.

The stalks of swede grown for seeds are fragile, often lodging, so they are tied up if possible.

Seed harvesting is carried out manually or using headers in two phases, when the seeds in 25-30% of the pods become light brown, the pods themselves become yellow-green or light yellow (at the end of August). During the maturation period, the testes protect from birds. Threshing of beveled seed plants is carried out by combines or threshers. The yield of seeds with good agricultural technology is 1.0-1.5 t/ha.

In southern countries, for example, Georgia or Armenia, it is possible to plant rutabagas without planting for seeds. To do this, the uterine crops are left in the field for the winter, care is taken in the spring, and the seeds are harvested in the summer. The cost of seeds obtained by the non-planting method is significantly lower.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.