Sunday, November 28, 2021

Harvesting cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed.

Mature curds (6"or larger) are hand-harvested and trimmed. Cauliflower should be harvested either early in the morning or in the evening.

Harvest the curds when they are fully developed, compact and before they grow loose or separate and become ricey, generally some days after they have become visible.

Cauliflower should be harvested when the head is approximately 15 cm in diameter, the curds are still compact and white and the leaves are still healthy and green.

Curds are sometimes marketed without foliage, but it is better to harvest them with a whorl of leaves still attached for protection.

Field knives are used to cut heads leaving enough wrapper leaves to fully wrap the heads. The spreading leaves are removed; leaves that wrap around the head are trimmed 5 cm above the head for protection of the curd. They are stacked in harvest totes which are carried to pallet bins on a trailer or flatbed pickup.

The heads are then cleaned, packed into cartons and then shipped to the cooler. Sometimes the heads are wrapped in perforated plastic. If the heads are wrapped in plastic, the carton is cooled by hydrovac. If the heads are not wrapped in plastic, the carton is cooled by hydro-cooling. Cooling immediately after harvest, avoiding wetness on the curds and maintaining low temperatures during transport and distribution can slow the onset of curd blackening.

Cauliflower is packed with 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 18 or 22 heads per cardboard box. Nine or 12 heads per carton are the most desirable size. Cauliflower that is to be processed is packed into bulk bins and shipped to the packinghouse.

Storage life is maximized at close to 0°C combined with 95–100% RH. Under these conditions cauliflower can remain in good condition for up to 4 weeks, depending on the cultivar and seasonal conditions.
Harvesting cauliflower

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