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Cool Season vs. Warm Season Crops

June 4, 2010

Cool-season Crops by Family

Cool-season crops are plants that are either frost tolerant or cool temperature tolerant, allowing them to flourish in temperatures lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cool-season crops are generally planted in the early spring when temperatures are cooler, long before the danger of frost has passed. Many of these crops can also be planted late in the season for a fall harvest.   

Spinach, a cool-season crop

Frost Tolerant

Many members of the Brassicaceae family are frost tolerant meaning they will survive a light frost.  These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, horse-radish, kale, kohlrabi, radish, and turnips.  Most vegetables in the Liliaceae family will survive a light frost, as well; these include garlic, leek, onion, and shallot.  Other vegetables that are frost tolerant include peas and spinach.  


Cool Temperature Tolerant

Cool-season crops that may be injured by a light frost yet grow best in temperatures lower than 70 degrees include members of the Apiaceae family: carrots, celery, and parsnip.  Endive and lettuce of the Asteraceae family and beet and Swiss chard of Chenopodiaceae also grow best in cool temperatures, as do cauliflower and potato.   

Warm-season Crops by Family

Warm-season crops are those plants that may be injured by frost and should be planted well after the danger of frost has passed.  Many members of the Cucurbitaceae family are not frost tolerant.  These include cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash, and watermelon.  Members of the Solanaceae family that are warm-season crops include eggplant, pepper and tomato.  Beans, sweet corn, and sweet potato all grow similarly as those listed above.

Please review our planting guide for recommended planting dates.

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