CULTIVATION, STORAGE & PACKAGING

Spinach is highly perishable and prone to damage during harvest and packing. It should be hydro- or vacuum-cooled after harvest as warm temperatures can cause deterioration. Ice can be applied to reduce respiration and extend shelf life.

Leaves are sensitive to ethylene and should be separated from producers. When stored at 32°F with high humidity (95 to 100%), spinach can retain its freshness for slightly more than 2 weeks.

Grades:
Spinach, whether bunched or as leaves, should be uniformly green, clean, and free from serious damage. For bunched spinach, roots should be trimmed.

For spinach leaves, there are three grades: U.S. Extra No. 1, U.S. No. 1, and U.S. Commercial. All require leaves to be of similar varietal characteristics, well-trimmed, and free from coarse stalks, seed stems or buds, and damage (wilting, discoloration, disease, insects, etc.) Each grade may have no more than 1 percent of leaves affected by decay.

For premium or U.S. Extra No. 1, in addition to the above, leaves must also be fairly clean and no more than 5 percent may deviate from requirements; for U.S. No. 1, no more than 10 percent; and for U.S. No. 2, no more than 20 percent of leaves may fail to meet the above requirements.

For bunched spinach, there are two grades, U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2, which both require the bunch be of similar varietal characteristics, fresh, fairly clean, well-trimmed, and free from decay.

For U.S. No 1, the bunch must be free from damage caused by coarse stalks, seed stems, buds, discoloration, wilting, insects, foreign material, as well as damage from mechanical or other means; for U.S. No. 2, the bunch must be free from serious damage from the above noted items.

Resources: Oregon State University, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Agri-Life Extension Service, University of California Vegetable Research & Information Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USDA.

GOOD ARRIVAL GUIDELINES

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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection was timely; and (3) the entire lot was inspected.

LEAVES
U.S. Grade Standards

Days Since Shipment

% of Defects Allowed

Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)
10-1 5
4
3
2
1
15-3
14-3
13-2
11-1
10-1
32
BUNCHED
U.S. Grade Standards

Days Since Shipment

% of Defects Allowed

Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)
12-6-3 5
4
3
2
1
18-9-5
17-9-5
16-8-4
14-7-4
12-6-3
50-60
PLANTS
U.S. Grade Standards

Days Since Shipment

% of Defects Allowed

Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)
10-5-1 5
4
3
2
1
15-8-3
14-8-3
13-7-2
11-6-1
10-5-1
32

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.

SPINACH: WEEKLY MOVEMENTS & PRICES, USA

Weekly Movements and Prices, USA

Source: Chart by Gallo Torrez Agricultural Price Trends (GTAPT), mgallo@markfinstrat.com, compiled from USDA data.

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