How to harvest cabbage? Harvesting Techniques & Modern Cabbage Harvesters

Although there have been some attempts to harvest cabbage mechanically, almost all fresh-market cabbage in North Carolina is harvested by hand. Machine harvesting is far faster than hand harvesting, however, unless extreme caution is exercised, machine harvesting can cause significant ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ to the cabbage. As a result, mechanically harvested cabbage may be better suited for processing than for the fresh market. Machine-harvested cabbage for the fresh market must be very uniform in size and maturity.
Depending on the variety, a mature head of cabbage might weigh anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds. Cabbage should be harvested as soon as the heads are firm and mature. Delaying harvest even a few days past maturity might result in split heads and an increase in the incidence of field ss. During wet weather, unharvested cabbage may develop significant infestations of Alternaria leaf spot and downy mildew. Normal harvesting and handling can spread these ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇs Harvesting immature heads, on the other hand, reduces yield because the heads are too soft to resist handling.
Field workers have a significant impact on quality. They should be educated on the importance of good sanitation, given clear instructions on how to select cabbages for maturity, and warned against rough handling. By feel and head size, an experienced picker should be able to determine the level of maturity quickly and consistently. The head is harvested by bending it to one side and cutting it with a Russel knife or a regular butcher knife. Harvesting knives should be sharpened on a regular basis to reduce effort and fatigue among pickers. Snapping or twisting the head off is not recommended since it ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇs the head and results in inconsistent stalk length and trim. Broken stalks are also more prone to decay.
The stalk should be cut flat and as ᴄʟᴏsᴇ to the head as possible while yet retaining two to four wrapper leaves. Extra leaves serve as handling cushions and may be desired in specific markets. Yellowed, d, or ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇd wrapper leaves, on the other hand, should be removed. Heads with insect and other defects should be discarded. Because fields can be harvested up to three times for maximum yield, it is critical that heads not harvested be left alone. Depending on the harvesting ᴍᴇᴛʜod used, cabbage might be placed in bags, boxes, wagons, or pallet bins.
Harvesting aids can significantly reduce harvest labor costs, improve harvest efficiency and cabbage quality, and dramatically speed up the harvest process. Aids can be as simple as a modified farm trailer for transporting cabbage and boxes or as complex as a self-propelled unit costing thousands of dollars. The more complex machines combine and automate the majority of the harvesting and packing functions into a single unit.
A simple belt conveyor attached to a tractor that slowly passes through the field alongside the pickers is an effective yet simple harvesting aid. Workers load harvested heads onto a conveyer belt, which transports them to a bulk bin, wagon, or even a mobile packing station. The conveyer can be a homemade grain conveyer conversion or a factory-built model specifically designed for cabbage harvesting. A harvesting aid can be used in wet weather if it is equipped with a canopy and high-flotation tires.
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Video resource: Noal Farm

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