Harvesting and Handling
Celery is harvested when the overall field reaches the desired marketable size and before the outer petioles develop “pithiness”. Celery has very uniform crop growth and fields are harvested only once and stalks are packed by size after trimming outer petioles and leaves.
High quality celery consists of stalks which are well formed, have thick petioles, are compact (not significantly bowed or bulging), have minimal petiole twisting, and have a light green and fresh appearance. Additional quality indices are stalk and midrib length, freedom from defects such as blackheart, pithy petioles, seedstalks, cracks or splits, and freedom from insect damage and decay.
Plastic film packaging is beneficial; crate or carton liners should be perforated, and individual polyethylene sleeves are to be left open at the top; being a good way to retain moisture without the danger of accumulating carbon dioxide or depleting oxygen.
Cooling and Storage
At optimum conditions, celery should have good quality after storage up to 2 months. Commonly, celery is rapidly pre-cooled and then stored at 0 to +1°C. If storage is intended to be less than one month storing celery at 5°C is not recommended for more than 2 weeks to maintain good visual and sensory quality. Some continued growth of inner stalks will occur postharvest at temperatures >0°C. Even under optimal storage conditions, discoloration of the butt is inevitable.
Keeping the temperature low is usually sufficient protection against ethylene. However, celery should not be shipped in proximity to ethylene-producing commodities. Celery is not chilling sensitive and should be stored as cold as possible without freezing.
Controlled atmosphere considerations
CA or MA offer small to moderate benefits to celery in storage.
Bacterial soft rot, Black heart, Black rot, Black stem, Cracked stem, Freezing injury, Grey mould rot, Pink rot, Watery soft rot.