Are you growing lettuce in Iowa, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?
Harvesting lettuce is not as easy as it seems.
- Lettuce 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 lettuce in Iowa:
- To Learn More About HOW to Grow Lettuce, Check Out This GUIDE!
When Do I Harvest Lettuce in Iowa?
As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your lettuce: the physical features of the lettuce & weather (time).
Harvest Lettuce if They Look Like This!!!
The physical features of lettuce 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 lettuce if they have the following physical features:
- The entire lettuce is a solid red color. If the lettuce is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
- The lettuce 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 Lettuce During THIS Time of Year!!!
In general, you should harvest lettuce:
- 65 to 85 days after starting lettuce from seed
- 40 to 50 days after planting lettuce in your garden
- 20 to 30 days after lettuce first appear
And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your lettuce before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your lettuce plant and make your lettuce inedible.
For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in Iowa. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.
Iowa Last & First 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 lettuce are in pots, bring them inside
- If lettuce are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
- Pick all lettuce. 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 Iowa, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.