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by Matthew Bean and Amanda McWhirt - June 11, 2018
The Southeastern Extension Vegetable Workers are a group of agricultural specialist
who are responsible for the editing and publishing of the Southeastern U.S. 2018 Vegetable Crop Handbook. In the summer of 2017, these agricultural specialists came together and decided
to trial one new vegetable crop every year for publication purposes and radishes was
the first chosen crop.
Louisiana State University’s Dr. Kathryn Fontenot took the lead to coordinate this project and Dr. Joe Kemble of Auburn University provided the seed for the trials. There were 14 trials locations
spread over Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Tennessee, and Virginia.
Arkansas trialed the radishes at the Southwest Research and Extension Center at Hope
and the Vegetable Research Station at Kibler.
The 16 radish varieties that were trialed at both locations are shown in the following
The trials were started later than planned due to inclement weather conditions. The
dates of planting, germination, and harvesting are represented in the table:
Both locations followed the same establishment and management steps:
Step 1 Pre-plant nitrogen fertilizer was broadcasted at a rate of 50 pounds/acre and incorporated
into the soil.
Step 2 A standard commercial vegetable production bed was formed.
Step 3 Pre-emergent herbicide Treflan 4 EC was applied at a rate of one pint/acre on top
of the bed and incorporated into the soil.
Step 4 Radishes were seeded in five foot long plots with three drills (rows) in each plot.
The drills were spaced at eight inches apart. Seed spacing within the row was approximately
one inch at a depth of ½ inch.
Step 5 Two drip tape irrigation lines were laid on top of the soil between the drills as
a water source.
Step 6 Plants were thinned to the one inch spacing between plants
Step 7 Radishes were harvested and evaluated for yield and flavor.
Harvest Yield and Evaluation
The middle two feet of each plot which consisted of three drills was harvested by
hand and taken to the lab for processing. The marketability of the radish crop was
determined by the United States Department of Agriculture grading standards. Marketable radish roots must not be less than 5/8 inch in diameter, have no more
than 10 percent root defect, and not more than 1 percent decay. Any radish root (bulb)
that did not meet these requirements were culled.
The radishes were examined and the culls were removed before yield weights were taken.
The marketable yield counts and weights were taken with the green vegetation still
attached to the root and also separated from the root. The cull count was recorded
to demonstrate the potential of a larger marketable yield.
The harvest data is reported in the following table: 454g = 1lb
The trial site at Hope fared well with regards to radish quantity and quality; however,
Kibler did not. It can be seen in the harvest data that the Kibler yields were substantially
lower than that of Hope. The reasoning for this difference will be explained in the
following section and only the Hope data will be discussed here in regards to quantity
There were a few varieties that appeared to perform the best when both total yield
weight and quantity of radishes are taken into consideration. They were the following:
Amethyst, Easter Egg, Nero, Pink Beauty, Red Head, and Sora. Sora was also highly ranked in the taste test evaluation which we will discuss below.
These varieties had high yields of both radish root and tops/greens. Other varieties
such as Stargazer had an extremely high radish top + greens yield, where 60% of the
total yield (bulb + green) was green top and only 40% was the bulb weight. The high
yielding varieties tended to only consisted of 25-30% green weight, with the exception
of Nero. Nero had almost 60% green top weight like Stargazer; but, it had a root yield
of 40 bulbs per 2 feet of row, which allowed for an abundant amount of marketable
roots compared to Stargazer’s 20 roots per 2 feet of row.
The radish variety Watermelon provided interesting data. It had a high total yield
weight (1731.2g) with green tops and moderate root/bulb yield weight (775.2g), but
it only had a quantity of 13 marketable roots, which resulted in large individual
There were few environmental setbacks in the trials that affected the results.
First, excessive rainfall in February caused the initial planting dates to be moved
to March, which was not desirable due to day temperatures rising above optimal growing
conditions for radishes.
Second, there was additional heavy rainfall in March after planting that resulted
in flooding at the trial site in Kibler. The field was flooded for several hours and
washed away some of the shoulders of the raised beds exposing the radish roots. This
resulted in less than ideal growing conditions and in the low yields and high cull
rates observed at the Kibler site.
Third, Arkansas experienced freezing temperatures later in the year than what has
been the “normal” over the past few years. There were several evenings during March
and April that the temperatures dropped to 32°F or below. It is believed that this
delayed the maturity of the crop and consequently resulted in a later harvesting date
than what would be typical.
Fourth, the heavy rainfall in April caused the radish roots to absorb large amounts
of water that resulted in several roots splitting. Consequently, this increased the
amount of culls.
A small taste test (three people) was conducted to determine how varieties compared
for flavor attributes. The top two favorites were Sora and Cherry Bell. Both of these
were ranked as a mild flavor with good texture. The top 2 least favorites was Mardi
Gras and Valentine. Mardi Gras was ranked as a bland flavor and Valentine was the
opposite with it being described as too hot by our taste testers. These two varieties
were also noted to be courser in texture, however this may be due to these two varieties
not developing to their mature size (see variety photos).