Picking Rhubarb After July 1st

“Wondering if it is true that rhubarb should not be harvested after the 4th of July or if is it ok to use all during the growing season.  Also any way to deter woodchucks other than a fence and killing them?”


The general rule of thumb is to not eat rhubarb from July on.  This is for three reasons:

1.  Allowing the plant to grow for the rest of the summer will give it the sugars and nutrients needed to get it through the winter and allow it to produce well the next year.

2.  The later months of summer and into the fall are drier periods of the year (usually).  This stresses the plant a slight bit (more if it is drier) and the stalks of the rhubarb get thinner.  For the most part, the stalk is not photosynthetic and is mostly made of water, conductive fibers, and sugars.  The lower amount of available water and the lower amount of sugar (because the reserve from the previous year has been used in spring) make the stalks thin and of a poorer quality.

3.  The oxalate content of the leaves increases.  While this does not affect the stalk (which is oxalate-free), it has been known in the past to ward off people who worry that it could be one of those ‘just in case’ instances.

Also, this upcoming time of the year is a really good time to fertilize the plants.  You want to promote the green growth (leaves) as this will affect the quality of the stalks you have next year.

(Woodchucks to be discussed in next posting, although having them eat rhubarb leaves would solve the problem!  =)



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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