Harvest and market
Spinach is sold on appearance. Any problems with leaf yellowing, caused by poor fertilising, or cosmetic blemishes will affect the appearance of the crop and decrease its value. It may even be unsaleable.
The market destination determines when and how it is harvested.
Baby leaf used for mixed packaged salads is usually machine harvested when immature and only the leaves are taken. The time from planting to harvest is around 30 days. The harvested product is washed in chlorinated iced water by the processor.
For a bunched culinary product, the crop is allowed to mature to 8-12 fully grown leaves and a time to harvest of 40-50 days. Bunched spinach plants are hand pulled with roots attached. They are washed and tied into bunches of 10 plants, weighing 500 to 1000g. Yield may range up to 4000 bunches per hectare.
Spinach may be packaged into about 20 bunches per 36L plastic container. Produce should not be sprinkled with water in summer as this may cause the leaves to stick together. If required, store at 0oC with relative humidity of 90 to 95% for 10 to 14 days. For distant markets, it may be packed in sleeves and top-iced.
The original content of this page was authored by John Burt.