Parsley is part of the Apiaceae family and related to celery, carrots, parsnips, and dill. An herb, often treated like a leafy green, parsley grows as a flowering plant and its leaves, stems, and roots are edible. Believed to have originated in the Mediterranean basin centuries ago, parsley is now cultivated around the world.
Types & Varieties
There are two main types of parsley: curly or French (Petroselinum crispum), with crinkled leaves, and flat or Italian (P. neopolitanum), with characteristically flat leaves. Both types are used throughout the food industry as a garnish or spice to perk up foods with their differing flavor profiles and green coloring.
Curly or curled-leaf parsley varieties include Banquet, Deep Green, Forest Green, Moss Curled, Sherwood, and Triple Curl. Bright green, decorative, and fragrant, this type of parsley will reach an average of 8 to 14 inches in height and is favored as a fresh garnish.
Plain or flat-leaf varieties, including Plain and Italian Dark Green, have a stronger, more lively flavor than curly leaf, grow taller (up to 3 feet), and are often used in stews and soups.
Turnip-rooted parsley, which has flat leaves, is often cultivated for its sizable root and prepared as a vegetable. Hamburg or German are popular turnip-root varieties.
Parsley grows best in raised beds with full sun and well drained yet moist, loamy soil. Drip irrigation is recommended to maintain moisture levels and prevent wilting or bolting; overhead sprinklers can sometimes lead to overwatering and moisture-related diseases.
Flat leaf is more closely related to parsley’s origins as a wild, biennial plant. It is also the most tolerant of weather variations or extremes including cold temperatures and light frost.
Pests & Diseases
Parsley is vulnerable to a number of pests including aphids, armyworms, cabbage loopers, caterillars, cutworms, flea beetles, leafhoppers, leafminers, lygus bugs (also known as tarnished plant bugs), spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, and nematodes in the soil.
Alternaria leaf spot infections begin with small brown flecks on leaflets. Lesions may develop yellow halos as they expand in size and number. With septoria leaf spot, lesions appear as sunken brown spots with grey centers. As lesions age, minute black specks distinguish it from alternaria leaf spot.
With damping-off, random seedlings may die or in rapid succession within rows. Initial symptoms of various root rots are progressive yellowing and browning of older, lower leaves. Long, reddish cankers frequently develop on the roots.
Other diseases of note include bacterial soft rot, downy and powdery mildew, leaf blight, and mosaic virus.
Storage & Packaging
When headed for the fresh market as a culinary green, parsley is harvested by hand to limit damage to its aromatic leaves. Stalks are generally bunched together and banded, then washed before cooling (hydrocooling or iced) to maintain freshness.
Like all leafy vegetables, parsley has a high respiration rate, and its temperature must be lowered quickly after harvest to delay moisture loss, maintain coloring, and prevent spoilage.
Optimal storage temperature ranges from 32 to 36°F with 95 to 100% relative humidity. Shipping in perforated polyethylene bags, along with top ice in waxed boxes, can help prolong shelf life.
References: Herb Society of America, Oregon State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, University of Arizona, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, USDA.
GRADES & GOOD ARRIVAL
Generally speaking, the percentage of defects shown on a timely government inspection certificate should not exceed the percentage of allowable defects, provided: (1) transportation conditions were normal; (2) the USDA or CFIA inspection was timely; and (3) the entire lot was inspected.
|U.S. Grade Standards||Days Since Shipment||% of Defects Allowed||Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)|
There are no good arrival guidelines for this commodity specific to Canada; U.S. guidelines apply to shipments unless otherwise agreed by contract.
References: DRC, PACA, USDA.