Top 6 Storage Crops for Preppers

Grow varieties of apples that store well and you can eat fresh fruit all winter.

Grow varieties of apples that store well and you can eat fresh fruit all winter.

Planning for Crop Storage Success

Planning ahead will allow survivors to plant enough storage crops to get them through the lean months each year. Start by researching the best crops for your area from this list. Choose the right seed and make sure you devote a chunk of  land to the garden and grain crops that will sustain you for long periods of time.

Choose heritage or open pollinated seed for your annual and biennial crops. This will allow you to save seed that will grow true to type year after year, if you are careful to save enough seed to plant each year.

Provide the best storage conditions for each crop to prevent decay and mold. Grow more than you think you need in case the winter lasts longer than usual, or you want to barter food for other goods.


Leave some of your green beans to produce bean seeds for drying. They provide a valuable source of protein for winter. Dry thoroughly and store in a jar with some bay leaves to deter bugs.

Dried beans last for years and provide protein when game is scarce.


The Best Storage Crops

Try to grow at least 2 or three plants from each of these crops to supply a variety of your food requirements. Different crops provide different nutritional needs, such as calories, protein, carbs, or vitamins and minerals that will help you survive.


Grow heritage varieties of grain that can be saved for future crops.

Grow heritage varieties of grain that can be saved for future crops.

Grains and Seeds

Grains will store for years under the right conditions. Dried beans and field peas or soybeans provide a generous supply of nonperishable protein, so be sure to include them in your garden. It’s no wonder our ancestors decided to settle down and raise these crops. They must be dried for several weeks before storing to prevent mold and toxins from growing in them. Store  in airtight containers in a cool to cold, dry area. The stalks make great bedding and fodder for hungry livestock over the winter.

  • Corn – Bloody Butcher, Hopi Blue, Country Gentleman, Boone County White.
  • Wheat – Preston, Hard Red Fife, Stanley.
  • Oats – Welcome Oats, California Red Oats.
  • Rye – Heirloom Winter Rye or Heirloom Cereal Rye.
  • Rice – Long Grain Brown, Sweet Brown, Brown Basmati.
  • Amaranth – Any variety can be used for grain and greens.Grain needs to be cooked.
  • Dried Beans – Dwarf Horticultural, Kidney, Lima, Pinto, Black Turtle.
  • Sunflower Seeds – Black Oil, Grey Striped.



Store pumpkins and squash in a cold area with high humidity.


Pumpkins and Squash

Long keeping varieties of squash will last until early spring in cold storage, providing the survivor with plenty of beta carotene. Pumpkins won’t last quite as long and need a higher level of humidity. You can still keep some of the old fashioned pie pumpkins well into the new year. Most squash need a curing period after picking to harden the skin. Acorn squash are the exception, and like to go into a cold, humid area soon after harvest.

Seeds from pumpkins and squash can be keep for long periods to provide extra protein for the survivor.

  • Squash – Blue Hubbard, Butternut, Delicata, Buttercup, Gold Nugget, Green Striped Cushaw.
  • Pumpkins – Cinderella, Long Island Cheese, Jarrahdale, Rouge vif  De‘Etempes, Small Sugar Pie Pumpkin.


Hazelnuts make an amazing flour for fry breads...high in protein and calories for survival.

Nuts provide protein during the winter when game may be scarce.


Nuts provide calories and protein for survival. Store nuts in the coolest, driest place you can safely secure them. They last longest at freezer temperatures. In a survival situation, your best bet is to oven can them for shelf storage. Of course you can keep them in a cold storage room, basement, or attic over the winter. Try to use nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, and pecans by the time spring rolls around. Almonds and cashews will usually keep for a year in a cool, dry place.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Walnut
  • Pecan



Red Bartletts are one of the best pears for storage.



Fruits provide valuable vitamins during the winter. Most fruit lasts longest when stored at a very cool temperature, just above freezing, but below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with a high level of humidity. Try not to store fruits in the same area as roots and other vegetables. The ethylene gas given off by the fruit may cause your veggies to deteriorate faster. Softer fruits, such as pears, last longer if they are picked before fully ripening, then stored in shallow layers with paper between them.

Fruit can also be stored in the form of wine or vinegar, or it can be dehydrated and stored in a cool, dry place.

  • Apples – Baldwin, Winesap, York Imperial, Jonagold, Jonathan, and Northern Spy.
  • Quince – Look for old fashioned quince, not flowering quince.
  • Pears – Red Bartlett, Bartlett, Anjou, and Bosc.
  • Persimmons – American persimmon can be left to freeze on the tree and then eat as you harvest.
  • Oranges – will keep in cold storage, if you can manage it in southern areas.



Many varieties of potatoes and onions will store through the winter and fill your belly on a cold night.


Root Crops

These filling veggies provide vitamins, carbs, and some protein. Root crops like a cold, humid storage area best. Most will do very well stored in crates or barrels with sawdust, clean straw, or sand to protect them. They can also be left in the garden and covered with straw and leaves to keep the ground from freezing solid. You can take a shovel and pail out to the garden in the dead of winter and dig up a feast. Use them before the soil begins to warm in the spring, unless you are saving some biennials for seed.

  • Potatoes – Kennebec, Katahdin, Norgold Russet, Superior.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Georgia Red, Goldrush, Centennial (they do not last as long as white potatoes).
  • Garlic – cold, dry storage. The best types are the softneck garlic, especially the silver skin varieties.
  • Onions – cold, dry storage. Yellow Globe, Ebenezer, Copra. Perennial onions can be harvested from the garden late in the year.
  • Shallots – Red Sun.
  • Leeks – Lancelot.
  • Carrots – Chantenay, Danver’s Half Long, Autumn King.
  • Parsnips – Hollow Crown.
  • Beets – Long Season, Detroit Dark Red, Lutz Green Leaf.
  • Salsify – Sandwich Island.
  • Winter radish – China Rose, Round Black Spanish.


Cabbages and other brassicas will provide vitamin C, even after storage.

Cabbages and other brassicas will provide vitamin C, even after storage.


This family includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. They keep best if the whole plant is pulled up, roots and all. Plant them in your root cellar in damp sand and they will go on living well into the winter, providing you with vitamin C and cancer fighting biochemicals. In milder climates you may be able to cover with straw and harvest through the winter, or plant late in the year to grow through the cool season. Kale withstands hard freezes in our area until late in December or even January.

  • Brussels Sprouts – Long Island Improved, Jade Cross.
  • Cabbage – Late Flat Dutch, Mammoth Red Rock.
  • Kale – Lancinata, Dwarf Blue Curled Vates, Dwarf Siberian.


Drying Calendula For Antibiotic Salve

Dry herbs, flowers, leaves and roots for flavorings and medicinal purposes for the winter.

And More!

  • Celery and celariac– Leave roots on and store like cabbage..
  • Dried herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, and leaves – Dry and store plant materials that are medicinal, or high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.


What’s Keeping You?

Why wait for the apocalypse to start growing your own heirloom storage crops? Raising your own food in a garden and storing it for the winter will help you become more self sufficient now, plus you’re learning valuable lessons for survival in the future. Getting a head start will allow you to selectively breed fruits and vegetables that grow best in your area. You’ll also get a better idea of what plants grow and store well for you. You don’t want to wait to find out that the 103 pounds of potatoes you can coax through the growing season will only last you until the middle of January. Get over the hump of that big ol’ learning curve before your life depends on it!


A lot of what I’ve  about crop storage I owe to the excellent guide, Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage by Mike and Nancy Bubel.


Check out Dave’s list of the Top Ten Survival Foods You Should Grow!


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About Lisa Lynn

I grew up on 400 acres of farm and woodland, foraging for wild edibles, learning to preserve food and raise livestock. My favorite book was my Dad’s army survival manual. Everywhere I’ve ever lived I started a garden, stocked up on non-perishables, and planned my escape route. My husband, Tom, and I spent way too much time in the purgatory of suburbia before moving to a small agricultural property. Here we’re learning new skills to survive without the infrastructure that most people take for granted. We plan to move to a larger, off grid property where we can expand our efforts in self sufficiency. It’s my mission to share what I learn with likeminded individuals. I’m sharing my preps with my peeps here and on The Self Sufficient Home Acre

View all posts by Lisa Lynn

One Response to “Top 6 Storage Crops for Preppers”


    Hi Live In Puerto Rico so I Have Stick What I Can Buy Or Grow In My Loco Area Do You Have A Book this Info That I Can Buy And Adapt To My Area. THANKS GOD BLESS.


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