Root vegetables are a favorite for farmers and gardeners looking for a winter or fall harvest, and beets are one of the most tolerant root crops that can handle near-freezing temperatures. This means they can be planted later than other plants, yet is Octover too late to plant beets?
October isn’t too late to plant beets if you live in a moderate to warm climate. Planting beet seedlings in October will prime them for a winter harvest. You can easily harvest beets planted in October before the ground freezes as long as you don’t live in an area where winter starts early.
In this post, I’ll explain the optimal time and temperatures for planting beets and if October is a suitable planting time. I’ll also discuss how you can protect beetss from the winter frosts if you planted too late and give you helpful tips on growing beets in colder climates.
Can You Plant Beets in October?
While beets grow best in moderate climates, they can grow in most climates ranging from hot tropical climates to colder climates. When to plant beets will depend on where you live and how soon the winter frosts arrive in your area. In most of the US, October is counted as late fall, and the temperatures start dropping in late October.
You can plant beets in early October, but you’ll have to take care to protect them from the early winter frosts and snow. If you live in a warmer state like Texas or Florida, you can plant beets in late October without any concern.
If you’re looking to plant garden vegetables in the fall, October isn’t the greatest time. Most gardeners will recommend planting beets, carrots, and other root vegetables in September since it gives the plants enough time to develop before the first frosts.
When Is the Best Time To Plant Beets?
The best time to plant beets is in the late spring or early fall. You can also plant beets in the summer, although you’ll have to protect them from the scorching summer sun. If you live north of zone 9, you can’t plant beets in the winter.
Beets usually take between 45-65 days to reach maturity and can be grown 3 times a year in moderate climates. You can plant beets in the spring, summer, and fall in most areas and in the winter as well if you live in a warmer climate. Beets need full to partial sunlight but grow best when the temperatures are moderate.
If you want to make the most of the growing season in your area, plant beets in these times:
Beets are cold tolerant and can be planted as soon as the ground starts to thaw. This will usually be around March in the Southern States, but you can start planting beet seedlings as early as late February. In Northern states, the ground usually starts to thaw in April. You must take special care when planting beet seedlings in early spring because of cold fronts. Read more on this in my other article: How Cold Can Beet Seedlings Tolerate?.
The best thing about planting beets in early spring is their cold tolerance. You can plant beets and some root vegetables about a month before planting other summer vegetables. If you plant beets in early spring, you’ll be able to harvest them in early summer.
Early to Late Fall
In most of the US, fall weather starts in November and goes to early December. This is usually the best time to plant beet seedlings. The temperature is usually moderate in September and October and is perfect for growing beets.
In the Northern States, the temperatures will start falling in November, but your crop should be ready by early to late November if you planted it in September or October. You can also leave your beets in the ground during winter, but you won’t be able to harvest them until the ground thaws.
Planting Beets in Summer
While beets grow much faster in summer, many gardeners prefer to plant other warm-loving plants during the summer months. Yet, if you live in areas like California or Texas, you take a risk planting beets in summer, as the seasonal heat can kill your beet plants.
When planting beets in summer, try to cover them with a shade or plant them in a partially shady area. Beets can grow in soil temperatures as high as 90 °F (32 °C), but they won’t germinate properly if the soil temperatures are hotter than this.
Another risk of planting beets in the summer is that they become more susceptible to pests. You’ll have to water them regularly and provide more water during the summer. So, while you can plant beets in the summer, you’ll have to take more care of them, and you may not get the same crop quality as you would in cooler weather.
Will Beets Survive Early Winter Frosts?
If you plant your beets in September, they should mature before the first frosts arrive. However, if you plant beet seedlings in October, they may be exposed to late fall frosts and the first frosts of winter. So, can beets survive frost?
Beet plants are cold-hardy and can survive early winter frosts. However, they may get damaged if the temperature drops below 28 °F (-2.22 °C). You can protect your beets from the frost by covering them up, adding mulch, or using fans to improve airflow around the plant.
If you live in a cold area, the temperatures may drop below freezing at the start of November. You can protect your beets from freezing by covering them with a cloth or frost bag. This will give the leaves enough space to grow and prevent the frost from killing the leaves. You don’t need to worry about the beets since the ground temperature will be a few degrees warmer.
You can also protect your plants by covering them with mulch or using a fan to increase airflow and prevent frost from killing the leaves. However, you’ll only need to do this if the temperature suddenly falls significantly below freezing.
To learn more, you can read my other article: Do You Need to Cover Beets Before a Frost?
Can You Harvest Beets in the Winter?
If you plant beets in the fall, you’ll be looking for a winter harvest. While a winter harvest isn’t possible with most plants, beets, carrots, and other root vegetables are the exception. Yet what if you plant beets in October and they’re ready for harvest by December?
You can harvest beets in the winter as long as the ground doesn’t freeze. You won’t be able to harvest the beets once the ground freezes. If you plant beets in October, you should be able to harvest them in late November, which is before the ground freezes in most areas.
Some gardeners choose to leave their beets in the ground during winter, and only harvest them in early spring when the ground thaws. The frozen ground will preserve the beets, and they won’t get rotten during the winter. However, if you choose to leave your beets in the ground during winter, you’ll struggle to pull them out if the ground is frozen.
What Is the Best Temperature To Grow Beets?
The best temperature to grow beets is 30-70°F (-1.1-21°C) with full sun. The best temperature soil to grow beets is between 50-80°F (10-27°C), usually found during spring or fall. Planting beets in freezing weather will damage them, while planting in hot weather will result in a smaller harvest.
Beets grow best in early spring and fall in full sun. The cooler temperatures allow them to develop a sweet taste and brighter red colors. If the temperature is too high, you’ll end up with smaller beets that have faded color.
You can plant beets in October for a winter harvest. Beets grow better in colder temperatures and can be planted in the early spring and mid-fall. However, you should avoid planting beets too late as they may die if the ground freezes.
You can plant beets in the summer, but you’ll have to take special care of them, and you won’t get a quality crop.