Horseradish harvesting season is from mid April to early May. During this time, it’s not unusual to see a few dozen hives all over your yard. If you are lucky enough to have a large garden or if you live in an area where there isn’t much frost, then the best time would be late March through April. But even if you don’t get any flowers during this period, then the bees will still do their job and pollinate them later on.
If you are growing hives in your backyard, then the best time to harvest is during the winter months. During these times, there won’t be many insects around so they won’t bother to sting you too badly.
You’ll just need to keep an eye out for honeybees and other types of bees. They aren’t going to attack you right away but eventually they will start doing their work and buzzing around your house. So make sure that everything is secure and protected at all times!
The best way to harvest horseradish root is to use a hive box. These boxes are made of wood and come with built in screens which prevent the bees from getting into your home.
There are several different kinds of hives available on the market today and each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some have movable frames while others have fixed ones. If you plan to grow smaller quantities then the best way to go is a manual rake. It’s much easier to use compared to a fork and you can get more with each pass.
No matter what you decide, you have to make sure that you only take small portions of the root at a time. This is because the plants are going to keep growing back as long as they are healthy.
The entire root isn’t going to be harvested until late September. That’s when the plant is about to go into its dormant period and that’s also when it stops creating new roots. If you want more flowers and seeds then you need to leave some behind.
It’s not uncommon to see bees buzzing around the flower beds if you plan to harvest the roots yourself. But if you want to be safe, then the best way is to wait until early in the morning when most of the bees are still sleeping.
Wearing protective clothing is also a must because bees are going to fly around your face and head. You never know if one or two might have decided to set up home on your person!
The flowers start off as green buds which grow at the base of the leaves. If you plan to grow your own crop then be sure to leave a few leaves on the main root.
This is going to provide the necessary shade for the bud and allow it to grow unhindered.
The flowers are going to open slowly. You will first see the tips of the petals and over the course of several hours the rest of them will gradually appear.
While this is happening, bees are going to fly around and do their job. You may also notice small, winged ants climbing up the stems. These are subterranean types and they are going to land on the flowers. They are harmless and won’t do anything except crawl around on the petals for a few minutes before leaving.
Once the flowers have opened, they will only last for a single day. By the next day, they will all be withered and dead.
If you don’t harvest them during this time then they will fall off naturally. This signals to the plant that it’s time to put its energy into creating a new root instead.
If there aren’t any bees or other insects around then this process won’t take place naturally. As a gardener, it’s up to you to make sure that pollination does occur.
This can be done by using a soft brush to move winged ants and other small insects around from one flower to another. Be careful not to damage their wings!
Sources & references used in this article:
Horseradish production in Illinois by SA Walters, EA Wahle – HortTechnology, 2010 – journals.ashs.org
Electron paramagnetic resonance analyses of horseradish peroxidase in situ and after purification by MM Maltempo, PI Ohlsson, KG Paul, L Petersson… – Biochemistry, 1979 – ACS Publications
Influence of nitrogen and sulfur fertilization on glucosinolate content and composition of horseradish plants harvested at different developmental stages by S De Maria, R Agneta, F Lelario, C Möllers… – Acta physiologiae …, 2016 – Springer
Influence of genotype and harvest time on the phenolic content of horseradish (Armoracia rusticana L.) roots. by L Tomsone, Z Kruma, L Lepse – … “, Jelgava, Latvia, 16-18 May 2012 …, 2012 – cabdirect.org
Evaluating strategies to improve glucosinolate concentration and root yield of field-grown horseradish in a Mediterranean environment: preliminary results by AR Rivelli, R Agneta, C Möllers… – Italian Journal of …, 2016 – goedoc.uni-goettingen.de
Variation of glucosinolates concentration and root growth of horseradish as affected by nitrogen and sulphur supply by AR Rivelli, F Lelario, R Agneta… – Plant, Soil and …, 2016 – goescholar.uni-goettingen.de
Functional properties of wasabi and horseradish by N Kinae, H Masuda, IS Shin, M Furugori, K Shimoi – Biofactors, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
In situ observation of the generation of isothiocyanates from sinigrin in horseradish and wasabi by YY Eileen, IJ Pickering, GN George… – Biochimica et Biophysica …, 2001 – Elsevier
Effect of long term storage on some nutritive components and isothiocyanates content in roots of two horseradish types by R Kosson, M Horbowicz – Vegetable crops research bulletin, 2008 – content.sciendo.com