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HS36 Production of Miniature Vegetables in Florida1 Donald N. Maynard2 1. This document is HS36, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date January 1989. Revised September 2006. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Donald N. Maynard, Professor Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean Miniature or baby vegetables are similar to normal size vegetables except they are considerably smaller. They are produced by harvesting the product before it has attained market size or by use of genetically dwarf varieties. Figure 1. Miniature squash varieties: upper center and clockwise, 'Gold Rush', 'Zucchini Elite,' 'Supersette', 'Goldie', 'Multipik', 'Ambassador', 'Seneca Prolific', 'Classic'; upper center, 'Sunburst'; lower center, 'Starflower'. The squash in the center are about 1 inch in diameter. Surrounding squash range from 2-3 inches in length. Miniature or baby vegetables are a relatively new class of specialty vegetables. Other specialty vegetables include those grown on small acreages, ethnic vegetables, gourmet vegetables and organically grown vegetables. Specialty vegetable production offers large growers the opportunity to diversify and small growers a chance to be competitive in the market place. The market for miniature vegetables is relatively small compared to the market for most Florida vegetables. At the present time they are used in some of the better restaurants and are sold directly to consumers in gourmet and specialty shops. Thus far, chain store have not generally handled miniatures. Quality miniature vegetables command a high price which is justified because of the high level of management and labor required in production and the relatively low yields obtained because of the small size of the harvested product. As with any new venture, growers should thoroughly understand the market demand and potential before planting. Miniature Vegetables Almost any vegetables can be grown and marketed as miniatures. However, certain crops have proven to be more acceptable than others. Vegetables readily adapted to miniature production are listed in Table 1.
Production of Miniature Vegetables in Florida 2 Other vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, muskmelon, onion, pepper, and watermelon may be grown as miniatures, however, established trade has been restricted mainly to those vegetables listed in Table 1. Table 1. Vegetables adapted to production of miniatures classified according to usable plant part. Fruit Vegetative Storage Organ French bean Indian corn Sweet corn Eggplant Pumpkin Squash Tomato Beet Carrot Kohlrabi Turnip Varieties Not all varieties are suitable for production of miniatures, however, there are usually several choices that can be made. The listing of some potential varieties for production of miniature vegetables in Table 2 is representative of those that may be selected. Culture of Miniature Vegetables In general, the culture used for miniature vegetable production is similar to that used for general vegetable production. After suitable varieties have been selected, plans for size of plantings and succession plantings to ensure a continuous product supply should be made. Some points to consider when making planting plans are: (1) time from planting to harvest for some miniature vegetables, e.g. squash, beet, carrot, turnip, is shorter than that for production of full-size vegetables; (2) the root crops and kohlrabi are at optimum harvest size for only a short period, so plantings should not be larger than can be marketed while the crop is at optimum size; (3) frequent, successive plantings of these crops will be necessary; (4) because the size of the harvested product is smaller, some crops may be spaced closer together than ordinarily. In some cases, close spacing is useful for obtaining and maintaining miniature size. Another point of difference between general vegetables and miniature vegetables is that pesticides must be chosen with care to insure that applications are made within the stated days before harvest. With a shorter period to harvest, some chemicals used for general production may not be suitable for miniature vegetable production. Harvesting and Postharvest Handling There are no U.S. grade standards for miniature vegetables, therefore, size and quality are dictated by market demand. The product should always be as uniform as possible, clean, free from damage, and free from decay. Likewise, there are no standard containers for miniature vegetables, however, because of their size and value, they are usually packed in relatively small baskets or cartons. Market demand may vary somewhat, but the general guidelines in Table 3 can be used as a starting point for new growers of miniature vegetables. Specific storage conditions for miniature vegetables have not been researched. However, it is thought that generally these vegetables are more subject to postharvest deterioration than their normal-size counterparts. Accordingly, it is extremely important to cool and hold miniature vegetables under recommended temperature and relative humidity conditions as outlined in Table 3. Figure 2. This display of miniature root and stem vegetables includes turnips, beets, golden beets, white carrots, round carrots, purple and green kohlrabi.
Production of Miniature Vegetables in Florida 3 Figure 3. These miniature eggplants are called 'Little Fingers'. They range from 1 to 1/4-3 inches in length. Table 2. Representative varieties for production of miniature vegetables and seed sources. Vegetable Variety Description Seed Sourcez French bean Aiguillon haricot vert Frenchie Major haricot Triumph de Farcey Dark green pods Dark green, round pods Yellow, round pods Dark green with purple streaks 5 7 5 4 Beet Avenger Burpee's Golden Chioggia Dwergina Little Ball Little Mini Ball Medium red, globe shaped Gold colored roots Concentric red and white rings Genetically dwarf type Round, dwarf type Round, dwarf type 3 2,5,7 5 4,5 2 7 Carrot Amca Amstel Baby Sweet Hybrid Little Finger Minicor Wita Sweet #500 French type French type F1 hybrid, bright orange Cylindrical, small core Amsterdam forcing type F1 hybrid 1,8 6 7 2 4,5,7 1,8 Indian cornCutie Pops Indian Fingers Papoose Strawberry Symphonie Multicolored ears Multicolored ears Multicolored ears Mahogany red, round ears Multicolored ears 7 3,5 8 2,3 7 Sweet corn Baby Asian Golden Midget Harvest at silking Normal sweet corn maturity 5 6 EggplantEaster Egg Little Fingers White, oval fruit purple, elongated fruit8 3 Kohlrabi Early Purple Vienna Grand Duke Purple colored F1 hybrid, light green colored 2,7 1,2,3,6,7,8 PumpkinJack-Be-Little Munchkin Sweetie Pie True pumpkin, 3-4 oz True pumpkin, 3-4 oz True pumpkin, 3-4 oz 3 7
Production of Miniature Vegetables in Florida 4 Table 2. Representative varieties for production of miniature vegetables and seed sources. Vegetable Variety Description Seed Sourcez Squash Gourmet Globe Jersey Golden Multipik Sunburst Supersette Zucchini Elite Round, green fruit Gold acorn type F1 hybrid, yellow straightneck type F1 hybrid, yellow scallop type F1 hybrid, yellow crookneck type F1 hybrid, dark green 6,8 1,2,4,5,6,8 3 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 3 3 Turnip Purple Top White Globe Tokyo Cross Purple crown with white below F1 hybrid, white root 2,3,4,6,7,8 1,2,6,7,8 Tomato Red Pear Yellow Cherry Yellow Pear Red, pear-shaped fruit Yellow, round fruit Yellow, pear-shaped fruit 7 7 2,3,5,7 z 1. Abbot & Cobb, Inc., P.O. Box 307, Feasterville, PA 19074 2. W. Atlee Burpee Co., 300 Park Ave., Warminster, PA 18991 3. Harris Seed Co., 3670 Buffalo Rd., Rochester, Ny 14624 4. Johnny's Selected Seeds, 955 Benton Ave., Winslow, ME 04901 5. Le Marche Seeds International, P.O. box 190, Dixon, CA 95620 6. Geo. W. Park Co., Inc., Cokesbury Rd., Greeenwood, SC 29646 7. Stokes Seeds Inc., P.O. Box 548, Buffalo, NY 14240 8. Twilley Seed Co., Inc., 121 Gary Road, Hodges, SC 29653 Table 3. Harvesting and packing guidelines and storage conditions for miniature vegetables. Vegetable Harvesting and Packing Suggestions Storage Conditions Temperature (F) Relative Humidity (%) French bean Harvest when beans have attained full length, but before seed enlargement. Beans are usually place packed in one or two rows depending upon container configuration. Sold by weight. 44-48 95 Beet Harvest when beets are 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter. Bunches of about six beets are packed with the tops in cartons containing 12 bunches. 32 98-100 CarrotHarvest when carrots are 3 to 4 inches long. Bunches of about six roots are packed with the tops in cartons containing 12 bunches. 32 98-100 Indian cornEars are allowed to mature on the stalk. Additional drying may be necessary after harvest. Husks are pulled back. Packed singly or bunched. Ambient 50 Sweet cornBaby Asian is harvested at silking when ears are 2 to 3 inches long. Usually sold by count in the husk. Golden Midget is harvested at normal market maturity. 32 95-98 EggplantHarvested when fruit are 1.5 to 3 inches long. Packed in baskets or cartons 50-55 90-95
Production of Miniature Vegetables in Florida 5 Table 3. Harvesting and packing guidelines and storage conditions for miniature vegetables. Vegetable Harvesting and Packing Suggestions Storage Conditions Temperature (F) Relative Humidity (%) KohlrabiHarvested when stems are 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Crown leaves are retained. Packed in baskets or cartons. 32 98-100 PumpkinHarvested when fully mature. Packed in cartons or wirebound crates. 50-55 50-70 SquashHarvested before or when blossom opens. Some markets prefer blossoms attached. Fruit with blossoms are very perishable. Packed in cartons. 44-50 95 TurnipHarvested when roots are about 1 inch in diameter. One dozen bunches of about six roots are packed to the carton. 32 98-100 TomatoHarvest when fruit are turning but not fully colored. Packed in pint containers, 12 to the flat. 45-50 90-95