Here is the BEST Time to Harvest Kale in Illinois (2023 Guide)

Are you growing kale in Illinois, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?

Harvesting kale is not as easy as it seems.

Here’s why:

  • Kale have a very short window when they can be harvested and still taste great.

So if you harvest them too early they may not be ready and taste bad. And if you harvest them too late they may become infected with mold, fungus, insects, etc., and become inedible.

Today, I’m going to teach you the ideal time to harvest kale in Illinois:

  • To Learn More About HOW to Grow Kale, Check Out This GUIDE!

When Do I Harvest Kale in Illinois?

As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your kale: the physical features of the kale & weather (time).

Harvest Kale if They Look Like This!!!

harvesting kale

The physical features of kale are what most gardeners commonly rely on to determine if they are ready to be picked off the plant or not.

In general, you should harvest kale if they have the following physical features:

  • The entire kale is a solid red color. If the kale is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
  • The kale is slightly soft. Too hard means it is not ready. Too soft means it is overripe (but still edible)
  • Easily able to be deattached from the the plant. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs and is ready.

Harvest Your Kale During THIS Time of Year!!!

In general, you should harvest kale:

  • 65 to 85 days after starting kale from seed
  • 40 to 50 days after planting kale in your garden
  • 20 to 30 days after kale first appear

And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your kale before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your kale plant and make your kale inedible.

For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in Illinois. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.

Illinois Last & First Frost Dates

Illinois Frost Dates

It should be noted that you should not overly rely on the first frost of the year. The average first frost of the year is only correct 30% of the time.

Instead, pay close attention to your local weather.

When you know a frost is coming you need to take action.

  • If kale are in pots, bring them inside
  • If kale are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
  • Pick all kale. If they are not ready, place them in a brown paper bag and store them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks to see if they become edible.

If you want to learn WHEN to harvest ANY Vegetable in Illinois, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.

About the author