Harvesting and storage
A crop may take from two to three months to mature. Size of the plant and leaf development are the guides to maturity. The outer two or three leaves are twisted off from the base of the stem, leaving five to six leaves on the plant. Sometimes all leaves are stripped off and there is a longer interval between picks.
In the field, tie about 20 leaves into bunches of about 750 to 1500g, the weight depending on the age of the crop, the size of the leaves and the length of the stalk. The stalk may be 400 to 500mm long after trimming.
Crops may be picked for four to six months. Eventually, plants show pronounced stems devoid of lower leaves and leaves become smaller. The number of plants which ‘bolt’ into flower may also increase. At this stage, the crop is finished and the remaining vegetative matter is incorporated into the soil.
Wash the bunches in a bath of clean water or hose them down, especially with silverbeet grown in sandy soil. Pack into plastic crates.
Yields vary from three to seven bunches per plant over the life of the crop.
The original version of this material was authored by John Burt.