University of Missouri Extension

G6226, Reviewed May 2017

Vegetable Harvest and Storage

Reviewed by David H. Trinklein
Division of Plant Sciences

Timely harvest and proper storage help maintain the quality and freshness of garden vegetables. This publication describes how and when to harvest vegetables; special harvest preparations and storage requirements; and appropriate length and kinds of storage.

“Ideal” storage conditions for many vegetables are not attainable around the average home or farm. So, recognizing the limitations of the best storage available is important.

Refrigerators can be used for storage. If two refrigerators are available, set one at a cold temperature (32 to 40 degrees F) and the other at a cool temperature (45 to 50 degrees F). If only one refrigerator is available and it is set for normal operation, the temperature in the center storage section is usually between 38 and 42 degrees F. Check the setting of the temperature control by placing a thermometer in different places in the refrigerator. Remember, also, that frequent opening of a refrigerator door raises the temperature inside.

Basements also are possible storage places. Temperatures in most heated/air-conditioned basements will usually be 65 degrees F or warmer in summer and 60 degrees F or cooler in winter. Separate sections can be partitioned to vary the temperature and humidity. Outdoor air or wetted sacks can also be used to vary the temperature and humidity. Unheated basements, if well ventilated, can provide good storage conditions for some vegetables.

Different vegetables require different temperature and humidity levels for proper storage.

This publication uses the following terms when describing some harvest times:

Cold, moist storage
(32 to 40 degrees F, 90 to 95 percent relative humidity)

Root crops

Cole crops (cabbage group)




Other vegetables

Cool, moist storage
(45 to 50 degrees F, 80 to 90 percent relative humidity)

Vine crops

Other vegetables

Cool, dry storage
(32 to 55 degrees F, 50 to 60 percent relative humidity)

Warm, dry storage
(55 to 60 degrees F, 60 to 70 percent relative humidity)

Warm, moist storage
(55 to 60 degrees F, 80 to 85 percent relative humidity)



Original authors
A.E. Gaus and R. Zuroweste
G6226 Vegetable Harvest and Storage | University of Missouri Extension

Order publications online at or call toll-free 800-292-0969.

University of Missouri Extension - print indicia