How Onions Are Packed

The onion harvest and packing processes take a lot of work! As you saw in the previous blog on onion harvesting, onions can either be harvested by hand or by machines. Once the onions are harvested, they are transported to the packinghouse. The onion packing process shown below is demonstrated with red onions. However, keep […]

How Onions Are Harvested Commercially – Hand & Machine Harvest

Photo of onions ready to be harvested.

Wow! Who knew that the onion harvesting process could be so intricate? I recently took a trip to Harris Fresh to see how onions are hand and machine harvested. Since I went during the middle of the harvesting season, I was able to see both the hand harvest and the machine harvesting process. Although they […]

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?

Photo of leaves in the fall.

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year because it is so beautiful outside! From the trees to the vineyards, it is really a sight to see all of the leaves changing colors. We know that those leaves are going to eventually fall, but why do leaves change color first? Deciduous vs. Evergreen […]

Sweet Potato Harvest & Packing

Photo of harvested sweet potatoes.

The process of growing, storing and packing of sweet potatoes is really interesting, especially when you consider that there is only a few month harvesting window and the growers have supplies of multiple cultivars to send out all year round. Although it is not widely publicized, there is a prime sweet potato growing region in […]

Pink Pumpkins: Changing the World, One Pumpkin at a Time

Photo of a Porcelain Doll Pink Pumpkin

I think we can all agree that pumpkins have become the most common Halloween decoration. From an agricultural standpoint, it is a bit sad that there are not more pumpkins consumed versus carved, but it does still add an additional market for pumpkin growers. A few years ago while I was doing an audit, the […]

Agricultural Labor in the United States: Current Situation & Threats

Photo of an agricultural labor crew.

We all need to eat. The only way to get all of the fresh produce we are accustomed to is by having an agricultural labor force that is able to help grow and harvest the crops. Without the labor force, there is no agricultural industry. Due to the current state of the agricultural labor force, […]

How Romaine Hearts Are Harvested

Photo of a romaine harvest crew, while cutting into romaine hearts.

Full heads of romaine are harvested when being sold as romaine lettuce (as we saw with the harvesting of baby romaine lettuce). Heads of romaine lettuce consist of darker green leaves on the outer portion and lighter green leaves on the interior. During the romaine heart harvest, the romaine lettuce goes through a processing step […]

How Do Bananas Grow?

Photo of an apple banana plantation.

When you think of the type of produce that you buy the most, or one that is the most readily available, bananas are usually at the top of that list. At traditional grocery stores, bananas are super cheap and you can easily determine the ripeness that you want to purchase. Even though they are a […]

How Dragon Fruit Is Grown

Photo of dragon fruit.

While in Maui, I set out to discover all of the produce that I have not yet been able to find in California. One of the crops I wanted to learn more about was dragon fruit (also known as pitaya or pitahaya). With that said, dragon fruit can be found growing on a small commercial […]

The 9 Coolest Flowers to Discover in Maui

Sometimes you need to remove yourself from your current surroundings to reinvigorate and inspire yourself. Or so they say! So, that is exactly what we tried to do this past week. We went to Maui to see all of the different types of produce and flowers we could find, and how they compared to what […]

How Sugar Snap Peas are Harvested

Photo of packed Sugar Snap Peas that were packed into boxes in the field.

Sugar Snap Peas, which are also known as snap peas, are harvested for the fresh market. Sugar Snap Peas are sweet and crisp, and you can eat the entire pod or remove the individual peas and eat them alone. Continue reading to see how Sugar Snap Peas are harvested and packed. This specific example is from […]

How Cantaloupes Are Harvested

Photo of a cantaloupe harvesting crew in the field.

Cantaloupe harvest in California’s Central Valley starts in late June or early July and ends in late October. On average, it takes approximately 75 days from planting to harvest, so there is continuous planting throughout the season. I recently visited Westside Produce, located in Firebaugh, CA. This company is a cantaloupe shipper that is involved […]

How to Know When Cantaloupes Are Ripe

Photo of ripe Western Grower Cantaloupes, Extended Shelf-life Cantaloupes, and Long Shelf-life Cantaloupes

When you go to the store to pick out a cantaloupe, it is pretty common that you see people using their own unique methods to select their cantaloupes. The question is: how to know when cantaloupes are ripe? This is a very important question because cantaloupes are non-climacteric and do not continue ripening after harvest, […]

How Baby Romaine is Grown & Harvested

Photo of a baby romaine field.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between baby romaine lettuce and regular romaine lettuce? They are the same plant (cultivar), but they are just grown differently. Baby romaine is planted closer together and is harvested before it reaches a certain size, resulting in smaller heads of romaine. This product is commonly used in […]

How Fresh-Cut Has Changed the Produce Industry

Photo of a fresh-cut fruit display.

Do you eat baby carrots, salad mix or fruit salad purchased from the store? Fresh-cut produce has become a staple for most of us. Just the other day, I wanted to buy a head of lettuce to shred for tacos and my husband asked me why I did not just buy the bag of already […]

How Kale is Harvested

Photo of a kale field.

Kale is quite the leafy green! Some people love it, and have their favorite way to prepare it, while others have trouble eating it. Kale is one of the bitter vegetables that causes supertasters to cringe when they eat it! Luckily for growers, grocery stores and chefs alike, there is still a great market for […]

Which is Better: Wood or Plastic Cutting Boards?

Photo of a wooden cutting board.

Cutting boards are a touchy subject! Some people are set on wood, while others are set on plastic. However, now that food safety and foodborne illnesses have become a concern in most households, the question arises: which type of cutting board is the safest to prevent any issues with cross-contamination? Wood vs. Plastic Although there […]

Garlic Harvest & Packing

Photo of garlic.

Garlic is a staple crop that does not get much credit. People use garlic when cooking at home, either fresh or in seasoning/powder form, but it is also included in dishes when eating out, sauces, salad dressings, seasoning on meats, etc. Garlic is everywhere! However, one thing that we do not think about often, is […]

How Fennel is Harvested

Photo of a fennel plant.

Fennel, also known as Sweet Anise, is a very distinct root vegetable! I am sure most of you are familiar with black licorice and how it smells. Well, when you approach a fennel field during harvest, it smells like an explosion of black licorice! Not only does fennel have a distinct smell, but it also […]

8 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

Photo of stone fruit that has been freshly cut.

According to the USDA, we should all be eating half of our plate worth of fruits and vegetables. However, based on recent statistics, that does not seem to be the case. I have seen a lot of creative ideas online for how others have been incorporating produce into their meals, and wanted to share some […]

How Radicchio is Harvested

Photo of radicchio in the field.

Radicchio is a beautiful member of the leafy green family! It can be found as part of salad mixes, or sold as individual heads. I recently visited J. Marchini Farms in Merced, CA to see their radicchio harvest. It was an extra special site to see, as there were six harvest crews working on six […]

The Produce Nerd Celebrates 1 Year!

Photo of a leafy green field.

In honor of the one year anniversary of The Produce Nerd, I wanted to highlight and celebrate some of my most exciting adventures. You guys get to see the final edited product, but I never elaborate much on the different visits, exciting moments or any of the crazy things that happen. So, here’s a glimpse […]

How Carrots Are Harvested

Photo of harvested carrots in the field.

By this point, we all know what a carrot is. It is a household name, just like a banana. But something fun about carrots that you may not know is all the innovation that has gone into the carrot. Carrots, come in all colors, shapes, sizes and slices! We are not getting that with bananas. […]

How Cauliflower is Harvested

Photo of a cauliflower harvest crew.

Recently, I have seen cauliflower everywhere, from marketing for the new Cauliflower Snow™ to social media influencers using blended cauliflower in their smoothies. It is a pretty multidimensional vegetable that can add nutrients to a meal as a side dish or can be prepared as the main course. Personally, I am a fan of roasted […]

Which is Better: Thick or Thin Asparagus?

Photo of asparagus with large diameters.

Have you ever wondered what causes the difference in the diameter of asparagus spears? It has been widely reported that the thinner asparagus spears are the better, more tender version.  However, that is not always true. Plant Structure To start off this discussion, let’s review the different parts of the asparagus plant. Crown – This […]

Asparagus Harvest & Packing

Photo of asparagus bunches packed into a box.

Asparagus are very interesting plants! They are unique from other vegetables in all aspects, including growing, harvesting and packing. Asparagus plants grow more like fruit trees, instead of like most other vegetables. Let me explain! When an asparagus plant establishes itself, it forms a crown underground. The roots grow from the crown, which is also […]

Rose Days: A Collection of Over 500 Disease Resistant Roses

Photo of the Foundation Plant Services Rose Fields

I thought it was just going to be another weekend, but it turned into a rose extravaganza! We saw a public announcement for Rose Days at UC Davis, and decided to attend. Who knew that we were going to get to see a real-life rose encyclopedia?! It was basically the rose version of Wolfskill, with […]

How Blonde Frisée is Created

Photo of Blonde Frisée being packed into boxes.

What is Blonde Frisée? Brace yourselves: this is pretty cool! There is a leafy green known as Frisée. Then, there is Blonde Frisée. Both products come from the same plant, but there is a little added alteration to the Blonde Frisée product. Below, you will see Frisée. It is a green, leafy green product. To […]

How Strawberries Are Harvested

Photo of a strawberry field in Santa Maria, CA.

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits! One of the great joys of living in California is that strawberries are produced along the coast throughout the state at different times of the year, so we are able to have California grown strawberries throughout the year. Production begins in the fall and winter in Ventura County […]

How Do They Know When to Harvest Fruit?

Photo of a display of tools used to measure maturity indices.

I will always say that agricultural workers work harder than anyone. Not only is it physically demanding work, but there is a lot of attention to detail that is required. One primary example is during harvest. Not only are the workers harvesting as quickly as possible, but they are also checking for quality and fruit […]