Asked July 17, 2016, 12:29 PM EDT
when is the best time to harvest parsnip seed for next growing season ? will the seed produce good or just be all tops ?
Martin County Minnesota
Thank you for the question. If your parsnips are from hybrid seeds, any seed you save and plant next spring will not grow true to your expectation and the results will be inferior. You can save seed if the parsnips are not hybrid. Check the seed packet for this information. Since parsnips are biennial, you could collect seed the second year after the parsnip has been planted if they aren't from hybrid seeds. According to the University of Montana Extension,
" Saving seeds from annuals is easy, but the seeds of biennials are borne in the second season following a cold period. Therefore, you will have to allow the plants to over-winter and collect seeds from the flowering structures the following year. Root crops present a special problem since they must be harvested to judge their quality. Carefully dig them in the fall and select those with the best characteristics (largest root, minimal zoning, etc.). Remove their tops and replant them right away just as they were growing previously. The following spring they will produce new tops and a flower stalk from which seeds can be harvested". Please read the entire publication: http://store.msuextension.org/publications/YardandGarden/MT199905AG.pdf
Here is more general information on growing parsnips and other root vegetables in the home garden:
Thank you for contacting Extension.