When to Pick Rhubarb: A Guide to Harvesting

Find out the perfect time to harvest rhubarb and elevate your spring recipes with fresh, homegrown produce. Learn when to pick rhubarb for maximum flavor and tenderness.

Are you a fan of rhubarb? This tart and tangy vegetable is a popular ingredient in pies, jams, and other desserts. But when is the best time to pick rhubarb? Knowing when to harvest your rhubarb can make all the difference in the quality and flavor of your dishes.

This post may contain affiliate links.


The ideal time to pick rhubarb is in the early spring, usually around April or May, depending on your location. The stalks should be at least 10 inches long and have a diameter of about 1 inch.


Get the scoop on when to pick rhubarb for the most succulent and vibrant stalks. Unleash your culinary creativity with garden-fresh rhubarb picked at just the right moment.


To harvest your rhubarb, simply grasp the stalk near the base and pull it gently to one side. The stalk should snap off cleanly from the plant. Be sure to leave at least a few stalks on the plant so it can continue to grow.


It’s important to note that you should never eat the leaves of the rhubarb plant, as they contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can be toxic.


Stick to the stalks, which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for later use. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy the delicious flavor of fresh rhubarb all season long.


Related Article: 5 Easy Rhubarb Recipes for Canning


Understanding Rhubarb Plant Basics


If you are planning to grow rhubarb or just want to learn more about this vegetable, it’s important to understand some basic information about the plant. Here are some key things you should know:


The Lifecycle of Rhubarb


Rhubarb is a perennial plant, which means it will come back year after year if properly cared for. It typically grows in the spring and summer and goes dormant in the fall and winter. The plant produces large leaves and thick, edible stalks that are often used in pies, jams, and other desserts.


Explore the best practices for picking rhubarb at its peak for delectable pies, jams, and more. Discover the ideal timing and techniques for a bountiful harvest.

Rhubarb Varieties and Characteristics


There are several different varieties of rhubarb, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common types are red and green rhubarb, but there are also varieties that produce pink, yellow, and even black stalks. Some varieties are sweeter than others, while others have a more tart flavor.


When choosing a rhubarb plant for your garden, it’s important to consider the characteristics of each variety and choose one that will thrive in your climate and soil conditions.


Overall, rhubarb is a hardy and easy-to-grow vegetable that can provide a bountiful harvest for years to come. Just be sure to only eat the stalks, as the leaves contain oxalic acid and can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities.


With proper care and attention, your rhubarb plant can be a beautiful and delicious addition to your garden.


Master the art of picking rhubarb with our expert tips and tricks. From garden to table, ensure your rhubarb is picked at the perfect time for irresistible homemade treats.

Preparing for Rhubarb Season

Rhubarb is a delicious and versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes, from pies and jams to savory dishes. If you’re thinking about growing your own rhubarb, there are a few things you need to know to prepare for the season.


Planting and Growing Rhubarb


The first step in growing rhubarb is to choose a suitable location. Rhubarb prefers a spot that gets plenty of sunlight, but not too much heat. It also needs well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.


When planting rhubarb, make sure to space the plants at least 3 feet apart to allow for proper growth. Rhubarb is a perennial plant, which means it will come back year after year if given the right conditions. However, it may take a few years for the plant to become established and produce a good crop.


Soil and Sunlight Requirements


Rhubarb requires soil that is rich in nutrients and well-draining. If your soil is not suitable, you can amend it with compost or other organic matter. Rhubarb also needs plenty of sunlight, but it can tolerate some shade, especially in hotter climates.


Watering and Care


Rhubarb needs consistent watering, especially during dry spells. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Mulching around the plants can help to retain moisture in the soil and keep weeds at bay.


In terms of care, rhubarb is relatively low-maintenance. However, it may benefit from occasional fertilization with a balanced organic fertilizer. Be on the lookout for pests and diseases, such as aphids and crown rot, and take action promptly if you notice any issues.


By following these tips for preparing for rhubarb season, you can ensure a bountiful harvest of this delicious and nutritious vegetable.


When to Harvest Rhubarb


If you are growing rhubarb, you might be wondering when the best time is to harvest it. Harvesting rhubarb at the right time is important to get the best flavor and texture. In this section, we will discuss the ideal time to harvest rhubarb and the techniques you can use to do it.


Identifying Harvest Time


The ideal time to harvest rhubarb is when the stalks are firm, long, and have a good color. Typically, you can start harvesting rhubarb in May and continue through June and July. However, the exact time to harvest rhubarb can vary depending on your location and weather conditions.


One way to identify if your rhubarb is ready to harvest is to check the length of the stalks. The ideal length is around 10-15 inches, but this can vary depending on the variety you are growing. You can also check the color of the stalks. They should be a deep red or green color, depending on the variety.


Harvesting Techniques


When it comes to harvesting rhubarb, there are a few techniques you can use. The first is to simply pull the stalks out of the ground. Make sure to grab the stalk at the base and give it a firm tug. If it doesn’t come out easily, it’s not ready to harvest yet.


Another technique is to use a knife or shears to cut the stalks off at the base. This can be a better option if you have a lot of rhubarb to harvest, as it can be quicker and easier than pulling each stalk individually.


Regardless of the technique you use, make sure to leave a few stalks on the plant so it can continue to grow and produce more rhubarb. Avoid harvesting rhubarb too late in the season, as the stalks can become tough and stringy.


The ideal time to harvest rhubarb is when the stalks are firm, long, and have a good color. You can start harvesting in May and continue through June and July. Use the techniques discussed above to harvest your rhubarb and enjoy its delicious flavor in your favorite recipes.


Post-Harvest Handling and Usage


After harvesting your rhubarb, it’s important to handle it properly to ensure it stays fresh and delicious. Here are some tips on how to store and use your fresh rhubarb:


Storing Fresh Rhubarb


To keep your rhubarb fresh, start by removing any leaves or debris from the stalks. Then, give the stalks a quick rinse and dry them off with a towel. You can store your rhubarb in the refrigerator for up to a week by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and placing it in a plastic bag.


Alternatively, you can freeze your rhubarb by cutting it into small pieces and placing them in a freezer bag. Frozen rhubarb can last up to a year in the freezer.


Rhubarb in Recipes


Rhubarb is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some ideas for incorporating rhubarb into your cooking:

  • Rhubarb Pie: A classic way to use rhubarb is in a pie. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and mix it with sugar, flour, and spices. Then, pour the mixture into a pie crust and bake until golden brown.
  • Desserts: Rhubarb is also a great addition to desserts like tarts, cakes, and crisp. Try mixing it with strawberries or raspberries for a delicious summer treat.
  • Compost: If you have any leftover rhubarb scraps, don’t throw them away! They can be added to your compost pile to help nourish your garden.


Remember, when working with rhubarb, it’s important to cut off the leaves as they contain toxins that can be harmful if ingested. Use a sharp knife or simply twist the stalks to remove them from the plant. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh rhubarb all season long.


Common Mistakes and Tips


When it comes to harvesting rhubarb, there are a few common mistakes that many gardeners make. Here are some tips to help you avoid these mistakes and get the most out of your rhubarb harvest.


Avoiding Overharvesting


One of the most common mistakes when harvesting rhubarb is overharvesting. It can be tempting to harvest as much as possible, but this can actually harm your rhubarb plant in the long run.


To avoid overharvesting, only harvest up to one-third of the stalks at a time. This will allow your plant to continue to grow and produce more stalks throughout the season.


Dealing with Flowering Rhubarb


Another common mistake is letting your rhubarb plant flower. While the flowers may look pretty, they can actually be harmful to your plant’s growth and yield.


If you notice a flower stalk starting to form, it’s important to cut it off immediately. This will help your plant focus its energy on producing more stalks instead of putting energy into the flower.


When harvesting rhubarb, it’s important to discard any stalks that are damaged or diseased. These stalks can be a breeding ground for pests and diseases that can harm your entire plant.


Additionally, if you’re harvesting rhubarb from a plant that is in its first year, it’s important to only harvest a few stalks to allow the plant to establish itself. Once your plant is established, you can expect a higher yield of stalks each season.


Frequently Asked Questions


When is the best time of year to harvest rhubarb?


The ideal time to harvest rhubarb is in the late spring or early summer, typically from April to June. This is when the stalks are at their juiciest and most flavorful.


It’s important to wait until the stalks are a good size before harvesting, usually around 10-15 inches long, and to avoid picking them too late in the season when they may become tough and woody.


How can you tell if rhubarb is ripe enough to pick?


When the stalks are thick and firm, they are ready to be harvested. You can also test the stalks by gently pulling them to see if they come away easily from the plant.


If they do, they are ready to be picked. It’s important to avoid picking stalks that are thin and spindly, as these are not yet mature enough to be harvested.


What should you do with rhubarb during its first growing year?


During the first year of growth, it’s important to leave the rhubarb plant alone and not harvest any stalks. This allows the plant to establish a strong root system and ensures a healthy harvest in the future.


You can remove any flower stalks that appear, as these can divert energy away from the plant’s growth.


Is it okay to pick rhubarb in the fall months?


It’s generally not recommended to pick rhubarb in the fall months, as this can weaken the plant and reduce the size of the harvest the following year. However, if you do need to harvest rhubarb in the fall, be sure to leave at least 4-6 weeks before the first frost to allow the plant to recover.


Why is it recommended to stop harvesting rhubarb at a certain time of year?


Stopping the harvest of rhubarb in the late spring or early summer allows the plant to store energy for the following year’s growth. If you continue to harvest the stalks too late in the season, the plant will become weaker and produce smaller stalks in the future.


What are the implications of letting rhubarb plants flower?


Allowing rhubarb plants to flower can reduce the size and quality of the stalks, as the plant will divert energy away from the stalks and towards the flowers. It’s recommended to remove any flower stalks that appear to ensure a healthy harvest of rhubarb stalks.


Follow my rhubarb board on Pinterest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.