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When to reap
Most varieties are ready to reap 9 – 10 weeks after transplanting or, when heads are fully developed, i.e. well firm. Not all the heads in a plot develop at the same time; therefore, care has to be taken of the reaper to reap only fully mature heads.
How to reap
Cabbage should be reaped in the cool of the day, preferably in the early morning. Reaping is done by using a very sharp knife to cut the stem, about 2 cm below the base of the cabbage. This will allow 3 – 4 outer levels to remain intact, and which provide protection for the under layers or the edible portion of the cabbage. This process will ensure that a very green, hard, and fully developed head of cabbage reaches the consumer, and that both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of requirements were achieved.
Field harvesting/field containers
After reaping, care should be taken to minimize bruising, and this can be achieved by placing the cabbage with outer leaves intact directly into ventilated crates. Cabbage heads should not be thrown from place to place.
Cabbage should be stored is a shaded area (under a tree, on a verandah, ect.). Where these conditions are not available, using tarpaulin or coconut boars, or cool green grass can create temporary shade. This condition will assist in reducing field heat, thereby extending the shelf life of the product.
Light coloured ventilated crates are recommended with a holding capacity of 55 – 60 lbs per crate, as against the polypropylene (fertilizer) bags of 100 lbs, which are into the bags. To accomplish this, the outer leaves are usually removed, thereby exposing the inner, or edible leaves to bruising and squashing. Then end result is that the consumer receives and inferior product, and heavy post harvest loss has occurred. Retail packaging can be enhanced by the use of plastic, which will provide a modified atmosphere (ma).
Refrigerated trucks, with ventilated crates are highly recommended instead of the open trucks and bus tops, with over packed fertilizer bags.
Open body trucks can be used, but vehicle must be covered by a light coloured tarpaulin, and traveled in the cool of the day.
The life of the cabbage can be extended for another 2 – 3 weeks, by storing at about 0 - 4°C or 32 - 36°F, and with relative humidity (RH) of 95%.