What Are the Different Types of Winter Crops?

Lumara Lee
Lumara Lee
Kiwis.
Kiwis.

Most people think about planting crops in the spring and harvesting them in the summer and fall. A number of plants, however, grow well in cooler temperatures. These winter crops include root vegetables, chicories, and cruciferous vegetables, which are members of the cabbage family. Some fruits are also commonly grown as winter crops in warm climates. These include citrus fruits, kiwi, and some varieties of pears.

Beets are a cold weather crop.
Beets are a cold weather crop.

Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons grown in the winter are sweeter than at any other time. Tangerines and satsumas are also winter crops in warmer climes. In the United States, Florida and California have a thriving agricultural industry that produces fruits and vegetables year-round. Winter crops and vegetables that store well are available so that consumers can have access to fresh produce any time of the year.

Tangerines are winter crops in warmer climates.
Tangerines are winter crops in warmer climates.

Winter wheat is a commercial crop sown in the fall in North America, Europe, and parts of northern Asia. This type of wheat is sown in the fall and sprouts before the temperatures drop in winter, when it becomes dormant. Winter wheat requires cold temperatures before it can flower and is harvested in the summer. Some other grains are grown as winter crops and used as ground cover to prevent erosion and to replace nutrients in the soil that may have been absorbed by previous plantings. Winter rye is commonly used as winter ground cover since it is cold-tolerant and has an extensive root system good for controlling erosion.

Kale thrives in cold climates.
Kale thrives in cold climates.

In some temperate climates, there are other crops that will live through the winter and be ready to harvest when the temperatures rise in late winter or early spring. Some winter crops can be grown year-round in certain climates, but they cannot tolerate high temperatures. Celery, some varieties of lettuce, and other greens such as Swiss chard, collard greens, and spinach may be grown throughout the year in temperate zones, but they cannot tolerate the high temperatures of summer in tropical climates. Kale, parsley, and cauliflower can also be grown year round in some regions.

Collard greens can be grown all year in temperate areas.
Collard greens can be grown all year in temperate areas.

Some winter crops are grown in the fall and harvested in the winter. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and kale thrive in colder temperatures and are harvested during the winter. Root crops such as beets, potatoes, and carrots also prefer cold temperatures. Radishes, garlic, and onions are some other winter crops that grow best in cool temperatures. These root crops also store well after being harvested in the winter, and can often last until spring.

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Discussion Comments

Grivusangel

Nothing like a tree ripened satsuma orange, right out of the grove! I got hold of some back in the late fall after a trip to the beach. They were wonderful.

I'm glad we have citrus fruit available in the winter -- kind of helps with the winter blues, I think.

I've never been a fan of beets, but it makes sense that they are popular in Russia with the long winters. They need a hardy cold weather crop, and beets do the job.

My mom grew cabbage one winter with moderate success. She said it got too cold to go out and tend it though, so that was a one-season experiment.

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    • Kiwis.
      Kiwis.
    • Beets are a cold weather crop.
      By: mates
      Beets are a cold weather crop.
    • Tangerines are winter crops in warmer climates.
      By: hanabiyori
      Tangerines are winter crops in warmer climates.
    • Kale thrives in cold climates.
      By: forevergreen
      Kale thrives in cold climates.
    • Collard greens can be grown all year in temperate areas.
      By: Onionhead
      Collard greens can be grown all year in temperate areas.
    • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are good winter crops.
      By: Serghei Velusceac
      Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are good winter crops.
    • Winter wheat needs to be exposed to cold temperatures before it can be harvested in the summer.
      By: womue
      Winter wheat needs to be exposed to cold temperatures before it can be harvested in the summer.
    • Winter wheat becomes dormant in the winter and is ready for a summer harvest.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      Winter wheat becomes dormant in the winter and is ready for a summer harvest.