Posted: August 27, 2012
If you watched the Olympic Games you probably saw some exciting finishes where the athlete who gave the best effort at the finish won the competition. It is no different in the produce business. Those who keep their crops protected from insects and disease, keep the right amount of fertility available for good growth and high quality, and keep the weeds controlled, will finish strong. It takes the majority of the harvest season to cover the expenses of growing a crop. It is those last few harvests that are your profit for the year. Harvesting high quality produce through the fall is critical to your financial sustainability. To harvest excellent quality in the fall it takes extra effort. Disease and insect pressure is peaking and your energy level is waning.
One often overlooked aspect of produce quality is postharvest handling. Be sure that the temperature of your wash water is warmer than the pulp temperature of your produce. If you are using chlorination, test the level of chlorine in your water often. Chlorination is most effective at pH of 6.5 to 7.5. There are inexpensive kits to test your water’s chlorine and pH levels. Pages A-15 to A-17 in your 2012 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations has more detailed information on postharvest recommendations.
Finish strong by ending the season with your customers/buyers impressed with the quality of your products.