TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS
Celery, Apium graveolens, is a member of the Apiaceae family with carrots, cilantro, and parsley, and grows best in temperate climates. Celery has a number of leafy stalks (petioles) connected by a common base; stalks can grow up to 24 inches each.
The green, long-stalked variety (also called ‘Pascal’) can come in blanched white or red coloring and is most common, though celeriac (celery root) and leaf celery are also popular. Typically only the stalks are eaten, but roots and leaves can be consumed as well (or used for medicinal purposes, the vegetable’s original use before becoming a household staple). For celeriac, although similar looking to celery, only the tuberous base or root is eaten.
Long-stalk varieties include Conquistador, Giant Pascal, Golden, Redventure, Tall Utah, Tango Green, and Ventura; celeriac types include Brilliant, Diament, Large Smooth Prague, Mentor, and Tellus; for celery leaf, there’s Par-Cel and Safir.
Michigan is credited with the U.S.’s first celery production in the 1850s. California began growing the vegetable in the late 1880s and provides most of the nation’s production, with Michigan a distant second. Celery exports consistently outpace imports; Canada and Asia are the major destination markets for organic celery exports.
References: Cornell University, Michigan Celery Promotion Cooperative, Inc., New England Vegetable Management Guide, North Carolina State University Extension, Utah State University Extension.
PESTS & DISEASE
Leafminers including the serpentine, vegetable, pea, and cabbage types will lay eggs on celery; larvae create “winding mines” and eventually form brownish pupa approximately the size of a rice grain. Adult leafminers are small with clear wings and black and yellow markings.
Cabbage loopers are gray moths with a silvery mark on their wings that grow from light green caterpillars with yellow lines down their backs. Eggs can be laid on the leaves of many vegetables and the larvae often leave ragged, large holes. The looper is migratory and can be controlled by a number of natural predators.
Other common pests of concern include aphids, armyworms, beetles, cabbage worms, mites, carrot weevils, and whiteflies.
Anthracnose-leaf curl, a more recent introduction to U.S. crops, affects a large number of fruits and vegetables. Symptoms for celery include curled leaves, some discoloration of leaf margins, as well as twisted and lesioned petioles. Contamination often occurs through affected plant debris and can be limited by careful planting practices.
Leaf blight, categorized as either early or late blight, is caused by fungi and often emerges as isolated dead spots on leaves that later become lesions. Typically, the same treatment will eradicate both types so there is no need to distinguish between the two.
Blackheart is a calcium and moisture deficiency that leads to the leaves at the center of the plant becoming discolored, turning black, and dying. It is slow to develop and can emerge close to harvest time. Enriching the soil with calcium and avoiding water stress can help prevent the disease.
Mosaic viruses, various types of rot (watery, basal stalk, pink, bacterial soft rot, etc.), fusarium, grey mold, rot knot, wilt, and powdery mildew can all affect celery.
References: Cornell University, New England Vegetable Management Guide, University of California Vegetable Research & Information Center, Utah State University Extension.