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NC State Extension

Postharvest Produce Guide – Leafy Greens

en Español

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Postharvest Handling Guidelines

Leafy greens may include Brassicas (ie., kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, etc.), or Goosefoot (ie., Swiss chard, spinach).

Harvest early in the morning when temperatures are cool, leaves are well hydrated. Leafy greens have a high respiration rate, and can not be stored long; remove field heat quickly; store at 32° and 90-95% relative humidity. Kale and collards may be stored up to 2 weeks, spinach, arugula only 4-7 days.

variety of leafy greens
Leafy greens may be bundled with rubber bands or in clear plastic sleeves, packed in boxes, or packed in a clamshell if baby leaves.

Quality Specifications

Greens should be cut fresh with crisp stems; leaves should have good color,
clean, with no insect, disease damage, or debris.

bright green mustard greensgreen kalebright red, clean stems of Swiss chard

Common Quality Issues

Black stems indicate product is not fresh.

stems of Swiss Chard with black ends

Holes in leaves indicate insect feeding; leaf spots may be disease, nutritional issues, and/or over mature; leaves are wilted, not fresh.

Swiss chard leaves showing disease, insect damage

Greens wilted due to poor postharvest handling practices are unacceptable to the consumer.

wilted, dull colored leafy greens