Picking Brussel Sprouts: How To Harvest Brussel Sprouts

Gardener Picking Brussel Sprouts
brussels sprouts
(Image credit: PhilDarby)

Harvesting Brussels sprouts provides a nutritious side dish on the table, and learning when to harvest Brussels sprouts can make your experience more flavorful. As with most vegetables, learning how to pick Brussels sprouts at the right time is a worthwhile endeavor.

When to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

Picking Brussels sprouts should begin when the sprouts are one inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter. Harvesting Brussels sprouts is best done when maturity occurs in cooler weather. Lower sprouts will mature first, with upper sprouts maturing a day to a few days later. With most hybrid varieties it takes upwards of 85 days for the sprout to reach maturity. The open pollinated variety, 'Rubine' can take 105 days or longer to maturity. Rubine is somewhat less productive than many hybrid varieties, but may be your choice if you wish to harvest Brussels sprouts that are not of hybrid types. 'Long Island Improves' is an open pollinated type that produces in about 90 days, but is not a guaranteed performer.

How to Pick Brussels Sprouts

When picking Brussels sprouts from hybrid plants, begin checking for ripe vegetables after 80 days. Indications that the vegetable is ready include size of the Brussels sprout and firmness. Picking Brussels sprouts, no matter the variety, is best done during cool days, so plant the crop accordingly, about three months before you want to begin picking Brussels sprouts. When the Brussels sprout begins to form near bottom leaves, removing these plant leaves will often aid in getting ready for harvesting Brussels sprouts. This is often done by those growing and picking Brussels sprouts commercially. If leaf removal is not done before harvesting Brussels sprouts, remove the leaves afterward so they will not take energy from maturing sprouts on the plant. Breaking off the Brussels sprout often breaks the leave off. Some growers remove the top of the plant to direct energy to the vegetable before picking Brussels sprouts.

When are Brussels Sprouts Ready to Pick?

Learning how to pick Brussels sprouts and when to harvest Brussels sprouts, no matter the variety, involves a few critical points. Picking is best done before the leaves of the sprout turn yellow and begin opening. Sprouts should be firm and about an inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter for optimum flavor and nutrients. Also, and depending on when you planted them, if you can wait until there’s been one or two frosty nights, the sprouts are said to actually become sweeter (referred to as cold sweetening). Pick spouts from the bottom of plants and check daily for more sprouts that are ready. Learning when to harvest Brussels sprouts is not difficult if you plant at the right time and follow these suggestions.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.