Bulletin 404 November, 1944
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
HAROLD MOWRY, Director
CELERY HARVESTING METHODS
By MAX E. BRUNK
Fig. 1.-Celery Push-knife.
This knife is commonly used in the Sanford-Oviedo and Sarasota areas.
"-il '- ,-
3_ ~ J
BOARD OF CONTROL ECONOMICS, HOME
H. P. Adair, Chairman, Jacksonville Ouida D. Abbott, Ph.D., Home Econ.1
N. B. Jordan, Quincy Ruth O. Townsend, R.N., Assistant
T. T. Scott, Live Oak R. B. French, Ph.D., Biochemist
Thos. W. Bryant, Lakeland
M. L. Mershon, Miami
J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee ENTOMOLOGY
EXECUTIVE STAFF J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist'
John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of the A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Associates
University3 H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant
H. Harold Hume, D.Sc., Provost for Agricul-
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Director HORTICULTURE
L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Asst. Dir., Research
W. M. Fifield, M.S., Asst. Dir., Admin.4 G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Horticulturist1
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editors A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Essistant Editors F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Hort.
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant Editors R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian R. D. Dickey, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.4
Ruby Newhall, Administrative Manager3 Victor F. Nettles, M.S.A., Asst Hort.'
K. H. Graham, LL.D., Business Managers J. Carlton Cain, B.S.A., Asst. Hort.'
Claranelle Alderman, Accountants
Claranelle Alderman, Accountant3 Byron E. Janes, Ph.D., Asst. Hort.
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE F. S. Lagasse, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.2
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE so^ ris.
H. M. Sell, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturists
W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist1
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Agronomist PLANT PATHOLOGY
G. E. Ritchey, M.S., Agronomist2
G. B. Killinger, Ph.D., Agronomist W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist1 '
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate Phares Decker, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Path.
Roy E. Blaser, M.S., Associate Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist
H. C. Harris, Ph.D., Associate Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Asst. Botanist
R. W. Bledsoe, Ph.D., Associate
Fred A. Clark, B.S., Assistant
ANIMAL INDUSTRY SOILS
A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., An. Industrialist' a F. B. Smith, Ph.D., Chemist' 3
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman3 Gaylord M. Volk, M.S., Chemist
E. L. Fouts, Ph.D., Dairy Technologists L. E. Ensminger, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian J. R. Henderson, M.S.A., Soil Technologist
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., VeterinarianR. Neller, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
L. E. Swanson, D.V.M., Parasitologist .. ell, Ph.D., S Chemist
N. R. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Hush.5 C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
T. R. Freeman, Ph.D., Asso. in Dairy Mfg. L. H. Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Biochemist'
R. S. Glasscock, Ph.D., An. Husbandman R. A. Carrigan, B.S., Asso. Biochemists
D. J. Smith, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4 G. T. Sims, M.S.A., Associate Chemist
P. T. Dix Arnold, M.S.A., Asst. Dairy Hush.3 T. C. Erwin, Assistant Chemist
G. K. Davis, Ph.D., Animal Nutritionist H. W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant Chemist
C. L. Comar, Ph.D., Asso. Biochemist Geo. D. Thornton, M.S., Asst. Microbiologist
L. E. Mull, M.S., Asst. in Dairy Tech.4 R. E. Caldwell, M.S.A., Asst. Soil Surveyor'
O. K. Moore, M.S., Asst. Poultry Husb.s Olaf C. Olson, B.S., Asst. Soil Surveyor
J. E. Pace, B.S., Asst. An. Husbandman 4
S. P. Marshall, M.S., Asst. in An. Nutrition
ECONOMICS, AGRICULTURAL 1Head of Department.
s In cooperation with U. S.
C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agr. Economist
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associates 8 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
A. H. Spurlock. M.S.A., Associate 4 In Military Service.
Max E. Brunk, M.S., Associate 5 On leave.
BRANCH STATIONS W. CENT. FLA. STA., BBOOKSVILLE
NORTH FLORIDA STATION, QUINCY Clement D. Gordon, Ph.D., Asso. Poultry
J. D. Warner, M.S., Vice-Director in Charge Geneticist in Charge2
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
V. E. Whitehurst, Jr., B.S.A., Asst. An. RANGE CATTLE STA., ONA
W. C. McCormick, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb. W. G. Kirk, Ph.D. Vice-Director in Charge
Jesse Reeves, Asst. Agron., Tobacco. M. Hodges, Ph.D., Asso. Aron., Wauchula
W. H. Chapman, M.S., Asst. Agron.' Gilbert A. Tucker, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4
R. C. Bond, M.S.A., Asst. Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Monticello FIELD STATIONS
R. W. Wallace, B.S., Associate Agronomist Leesburg
Mobile Unit, Milton M. N. Walker, Ph.D., Plant Path. in Charge5
Ralph L. Smith, M.S., Associate Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Marianna
Mobile Unit, Marianna A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. W. Lipscomb, M.S., Associate Agronomist
CITRUS STATION, LAKE ALFRED
A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Vice Director in Charge E. N. McCubbin, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist
V. C. Jamison, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Associate Chemist Monticello
W. L. Thompson, B.S., Entomologist S. O. Hill, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2 *
W. W. Lawless, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist4 A. M. Phillips, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2
C. R. Stearns, Jr., B.S.A., Asso. Chemist
H. O. Sterling, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist Bradenton
T. W. Young, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
J. W. Sites, M.S.A., Asso. Horticulturist J. R. Beckenbach, Ph.D., Horticulturist in
EVERGLADES STA., BELLE GLADE E. G. Kelsheimer, Ph.D., Entomologist
D. B. Creager, Ph.D., Plant Path., Gladiolus
R. V. Allison, Ph.D., Vice Director in Charge A. L. Harrison, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
J. W. Wilson, Sc.D., Entomologist4 David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist
F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agron. E. L. Spencer, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Sugarcane
G. R. Townsend, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. W. Kidder, M.S., Asst. An. Hush. R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist in Charge
W. T. Forsee, Jr., Ph.D., Asso. Chemist J. C. Russell, M.S., Asst. Entomologist5
B. S. Clayton, B.S.C.E., Drainage Eng.2
F. S. Andrews, Ph.D., Asso. Truck Hort.' Lakeland
R. A. Bair, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist
E. C. Minnum, M.S., Asst. Truck Hort. E.S. Ellison, Meteorologist 2
N. C. Hayslip, B.S.A., Asst. Entomologist Warren O. Johnson, Meteorologist2
SUB-TROPICAL STA., HOMESTEAD Head of Department.
In cooperation with U. S.
Geo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Vice-Director in
Charge Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
P. J. Westgate, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist 4 In Military Service.
H. I. Borders, M.S., Asso. Plant Path. 5 On leave.
PURPOSE AND SCOPE....-.......--....----........ --- ........... ...... .... .. 5
PROCEDURE .... ............................ ....................................... 6
DESCRIPTION OF METHODS COMMONLY USED..... ----------............... ............ 6
Sanford-Oviedo Area ........ ...--------................. ..... 6
Sarasota Area .............. ----------- .. -----......... 8
Belle Glade Area ..............................------ ..---- 8
VARIATIONS IN TOTAL LABOR REQUIREMENTS..--.....................----- ..--- -- ... 9
STUDIES OF OPERATIONS IN THE PROCESS OF HARVESTING CELERY.......---....... 10
Cutting and Stripping .---- -----------...................--- .... 10
Field Packing -......... ...... ......------- ........... 16
Top Cutting ......-- ......----. ... -------- .---..-.. 18
Stacking Boxes .....-------....-..----........---.--..... 20
Loading ..--..........------------ ...... ..................... 21
Handling Empty Boxes ....--.................. .....------... 22
CREW ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT- ........... .........------------- 26
Size of Crews .....-..... ---------------............... 26
Balance ......--....-.....-. -...- ........-----------.--- 28
Training New Workers ...........-----................. ......... 28
MECHANICAL HARVESTING .---.............----------- -----. -----29
SUMMARY ........----- ----------- ...............--------- 30
CELERY HARVESTING METHODS
By MAX E. BRUNK
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
Celery is one of Florida's important vegetable crops. During
the 1943-44 season the production of only 2 other vegetable
crops, tomatoes and green beans, required more labor than the
650,000 10-hour man-days expended in the production, harvest-
ing and packing of 5,000,000 crates of Florida celery. Nearly
half of the labor required for celery is used in harvesting and
packing. Mature celery must be harvested within a short period
to assure high quality. For this reason large crews in both
field and washhouse are required. In the process of harvesting
and packaging there are as many as 10 to 15 individuals who
handle each stalk of celery from the time it is cut until it is
finally packed in the shipping crate. There are many different
ways in which this process is divided into specific operations,
depending upon the area where the crop is produced and the
organization doing the actual harvesting and packing. Because
war has caused a shortage of farm labor and because the acreage
of celery has been increasing, it has become the concern of every
celery grower to find ways of harvesting and packing celery with
the least amount of labor in the shortest time. In this study
an effort has been made to determine the advantages and dis-
advantages of the various methods now commonly in use, as well
as to investigate possible improvements which might enable the
celery industry to reduce the 310 hours of labor per acre now
required for harvesting and packaging.
This is a study of handling celery from the time of the first
harvesting operation until it is placed in the shipping crate in
the washhouse. Detailed studies were made of 9 organizations
which harvest and pack celery in the principal producing areas
of the State. Observations were made of other organizations
and many independent growers were consulted.
Acknowledgments.-The writer acknowledges the assistance of Mr. A.
H. Spurlock in the collection of data, of Dr. F. S. Jamison for helpful
criticism. Figures 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 31, 33 were made
especially for this bulletin by Professor Elmer S. Phillips of the New York
State College of Agriculture. The study was made possible through a
grant of funds by the General Education Board.
6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
During the 1943-44 season each operation in the process of
harvesting and packing celery was carefully timed by use of
stop watches. Frequently the extent of 1 operation affected
subsequent work and thereby complicated the making of satis-
factory comparisons between organizations. In the process of
harvesting and packing celery this occurred often and has been
taken into account. Entire days were spent in the fields with
the harvesting crews of the various organizations so that rates
of accomplishment for both the crew and each class of worker
could be obtained. The same procedure was followed in the
washhouses. For some crews a number of observations were
made to determine the accuracy of basing the study on a single
day's detailed record of accomplishment. It was found that the
variation in the rates of accomplishment from day to day was
insignificant so long as the observations were limited to days in
the middle of the week. Therefore, observations made on Satur-
days, Sundays and Mondays are not used. Also, to insure com-
parability of data, observations were limited to varieties of
Golden celery. The fields studied were good yielding and rela-
tively free of disease or any unusual condition which might
have affected harvest labor.
The primary purpose of the study was to examine methods
of harvesting in the field and to analyze these methods with the
aim of increasing the efficiency of field labor. Because some or-
ganizations perform some operations in the field that others
perform in the washhouse, it was necessary to include labor in
the washhouse so that comparisons could be made between or-
In this publication each operation in the process of harvesting
celery will be discussed, although reference will be made fre-
quently concerning the effect of one operation on another.
DESCRIPTION OF METHODS COMMONLY USED
Sanford-Oviedo Area.-In the Sanford-Oviedo area celery is
cut by means of a push-knife (Fig. 1). Two push-knife cutters
work 1 or 2 rows ahead of 20 to 30 strippers who work across
the rows (Fig. 2). Each stripper has a space staked out which
is locally referred to as a stripper's "down" (Fig. 3). These
"downs" are usually about 15 feet wide. The strippers carry
small knives which are used to trim the roots after defective
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 7
Fig. 2.-Harvesting Crew at Oviedo.
Strippers and packers work across the rows in "downs" closely
following the push-knife man.
ribs are removed by hand from each stalk. From 3 to 8 cuts
are made at each root in the root trimming operation. In this
way the roots are pointed somewhat like a pencil. While the
stalk is being stripped, this knife is held in the hand. After the
celery is stripped and the root is trimmed, it is placed in con-
venient stacks. Following 3 or 4 strippers is a packer who places
the celery in field crates. After the celery is packed, the tops
are usually cut off by means of a saw or a machete. One or 2
Fig. 3.-Foreman Setting "Downs".
Each stripper works across the rows in areas marked out by stakes.
~ .d .b
8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
toppers work behind a crew of 20 to 30 strippers. One or 2
workers stack the full field boxes in line for loading on trucks.
Loading crews vary from 2 to 5 workers. There are also several
workers in the field who unload and distribute the empty field
boxes. Each crew ordinarily has 1 Negro and 1 white foreman.
Large organizations commonly use from 1 to 4 crews of this size
in single fields.
Sarasota Area.-In this area also the push-knife is used to
cut the celery. A crew is commonly composed of 2 push-knife
cutters, each followed by a boy who pushes the celery over in
one direction after it is cut. The push-knife cutters ordinarily
work 5 to 8 rows ahead of the rest of the crew. After the celery
has been pushed over, 5 to 8 workers walk along the rows and
trim the roots with hand knives. The roots are cut without
picking up the stalk. Only 1 cut is made for each root that
needs trimming, the roots being cut off squarely. About 15
strippers follow the root cutters down the rows. Usually the
strippers pile 2 rows together. Following the strippers, 5 to 10
packers fill the field crates which they pull along the row as they
work. The tops are then cut off by 1 or 2 men who use either
a saw or a machete. From 3 to 6 loaders follow the packers.
Several other workers unload and distribute the empty field
boxes. The crews are usually supervised by 1 or 2 Negro fore-
men and 1 white foreman. One of the chief functions of the
Negro foreman is to recruit the workers and haul them to and
from the fields.
Belle Glade Area.-In the Belle Glade area celery is cut by
means of a hand-knife. The workers are usually paid by the
row. They work down the row and as each stalk is cut with the
:> ,for Topping
machete as a
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 9
hand knife it is stripped and piled in rows. Usually 2 or 3 rows
are stacked together. The size of harvest crews varies, depend-
ing largely on the size of planting of an individual grower. In
this area harvest crews do not move from farm to farm as in
the other areas but ordinarily stay on 1 farm throughout the
season. One packer usually packs for 2 or 3 strippers or in a
few cases the stripper also does the packing. A topper follows
the packers and cuts off the tops by means of a saw or a machete
(Fig. 4). The celery is then loaded by 3 to 5 men. When the
fields are wet it is sometimes necessary to use tractors and trail-
ers to haul the celery to a hard road where it can be reloaded
onto trucks (Fig. 5). Empty boxes are unloaded and distributed
by several workers. Ordinarily 1 white foreman supervises a
VARIATIONS IN TOTAL LABOR REQUIREMENTS
Comparisons of organizations and methods used in the differ-
ent areas are best made on a stalk unit basis. In this way the
unavoidable variation in yield per acre affects work accomplish-
ment to a minimum degree only. The organizations ranked in
order according to the hours of work required per 10,000 stalks
hold about the same relative positions when ranked on the basis
of hours required per 100 packed boxes or per acre. In other
words, there was little variation in sizes and yields of celery
among the organizations. For this reason all comparisons in
this study are made on a unit basis of 10,000 stalks. Table 1
shows a variation in field work from 31 hours to 65 hours per
unit of 10,000 stalks. Washhouse work varies from 21 hours
to 47 hours. Because some jobs are performed in either the
field or washhouse the variation for all labor was less, varying
from 69 hours to 101 hours. It will also be noted from Table 1
that there is a tremendous variation among organizations using
used on the
lands to haul
celery to the
10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
the same general method of harvesting. The quality of pack by
these different organizations was carefully observed and there
was little difference noted.
TABLE 1.-COMPARISON OF TIME REQUIRED TO HANDLE 10,000 STALKS OF
CELERY BY DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS AND BY DIFFERENT METHODS, 1944.
Area Organization __ Hours of Labor Der 10,000 Stalks
Number Field I Washhouse I Total
1 48 26* 74
Sanford- 2 48 21* 69
Oviedo 3 65 I 28* 93
4 57 44 101
Sarasota 5 31 41 72
6 48 41 89
7 38 36* 74
Belle 8 36 47 83
Glade I 9 39 42* 81
These organizations dump celery onto house belt and workers on the belt restrip only
those stalks requiring additional attention. In the other organizations workers place 1
stalk at a time on belt, restripping it at the same time.
STUDIES OF OPERATIONS IN THE PROCESS
OF HARVESTING CELERY
Cutting and Stripping.-To make comparisons it is necessary
to consider cutting, root trimming and stripping as 1 operation.
The comparative data are presented in Table 2.
Of the methods now in use less labor is required by the hand-
knife method of cutting and stripping. This method is fast
because the same worker performs several operations while the
stalk is being held (Fig. 6). The root is cut with 1 slice of the
knife and the knife is palmed while the stalk is stripped, the
hand holding the stalk never changing the position of the grasp
until the stalk is placed in the pile row. There is a very im-
portant danger in the use of this method, and unless controlled
through close supervision it will result in the loss of much celery.
As the worker grasps the stalk there is a tendency to bend the
stalk over as it is being cut (Fig. 7). This results in cracking
the ribs of crisp celery (Fig. 8). These minute cracks will then
turn brown on the way to market and result in lower grades.
Also celery handled this way frequently is cut too short so that
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 11
Fig. 6.-Hand Cutting Right Way. Fig. 7.-Hand Cutting Wrong Way.
The stalk should be grasped low and the The stalk should not be bent over, as thi.
mife thrust deep into the root. results in cracking the ribs.
TABLE 2.-COMPARISON OF TIME REQUIRED FOR CUTTING AND STRIPPING
CELERY BY DIFFERENT METHODS, 1944.
Organ- Hours Required to Cut Additional
ization Method and Strip 10,000 Celery Stripping and
Area Num- of Stalks in the Field Root Trimming
ber Cutting Push- Root I in the
knife | Trim Strip Totall Washhouse
1 Push-knife 2 27 29 8*
Sanford- 2 Push-knife 2 28 30 8*
Oviedo 3 Push-knife 3 34 37 5*
4 Push-knife 2 9 15 26 20
Sarasota 5 Push-knife 2 5 10 17 18
6 Push-knife 2 7 13 22 16
7 Hand-knife 16 16 11*
Belle 8 Hand-knife 15 15 28
Glade 9 Hand-knife 16 16 14*
These organizations dump celery onto house belt and workers on the belt restrip only
those stalks requiring additional attention. In the other organizations workers place 1
stalk at a time on belt, restripping it at the same time.
considerable shattering 1 results (Fig. 9). Some fields observed
were losing as much as a complete size by such shattering.
SWhen the roots of the celery stalk are cut too short the ribs fall loose.
This is called shattering.
12 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Fig. 8.-Celery Cut by Hand-knife. Fig. 9.-Stalk Shattered by Hand-knife.,
The ribs on the stalk at the left have The stalk cuts easiest at a place whici
been cracked by cutting the wrong way. will result in shattering.
The method used in the Sanford-Oviedo area requires a little
less time than the method used in the Sarasota area. More of
the work is done in the field in the Sanford-Oviedo area, and
the work is done in a more orderly fashion. Because of the order
of work in the Sanford-Oviedo area there is less tendency for
the strippers and packers to get in each other's way and less
need for the workers to move about as much as they do in the
In both areas the push-knife is used for cutting the celery,
which results in more divisions of labor in the field crew than
where the hand-cutting method is used. One of the chief diffi-
culties with the push-knife during war times is the locating of
satisfactory laborers to handle it. The most pronounced ob-
"jection to the use of a push-
knife is that in the hands of an
inexperienced operator many
stalks are shattered by letting
the knife ride too high (Fig.
10). Even in the hands of good
operators there is a certain
amount of shattering which
4 Fig. 10.-Push-knife Cutting too
One objection to the push-knife is
that it sometimes cuts too high.
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 13
cannot be avoided. Sometimes the wheels on push-knives hit
an object in the row middles and throw the blade up too high.
Some crews have overcome this difficulty by removing the wheels
entirely and letting the cutting blade support the push-knife.
Organizations 4 and 6 in the Sarasota area use boys to follow
the push-knife cutter and push the celery over for the root
trimmers. Both the push-over boys and the root trimmers work
with 1 hand. Organization 5 has combined these operations
so that the root trimmers cut with 1 hand as they push over the
stalks with the other hand.
When celery is cut by push-knife the strippers pick up the
stalks by grasping them near the top, necessitating changing
the stalk from hand to hand several times before it is in a posi-
tion for stripping. In the process of stripping the worker usually
changes hands 1 time before completing the job. In the Sarasota
area the roots are trimmed before the stripping is done. This,
in the case of a few stalks which are severely stripped, necessi-
tates retrimming the roots in the washhouse. Even with this
retrimming the roots are not as neatly trimmed as they are at
Sanford. In the Sanford-Oviedo area the strippers carry knives
and do the root trimming after the stalk is stripped (Fig. 11).
The stalk is held in 1 hand as the root is trimmed. In this
fashion it is rather difficult to trim the root with 1 cut of the
knife, and for this reason the operation requires more time than
is required in the Sarasota area. Also, sometime ago, as a mat-
ter of market competition, celery roots were trimmed to a neat
"pencil point", and this is still practiced by some organizations.
Pointing the root necessitates cutting it 3 to 8 times, which
materially prolongs the time required to handle each stalk.
One organization, which had already abandoned the idea of
pointing roots, made a special effort to reduce the number of
knife strokes per stalk. The practice of pointing roots was dis-
too short; 2nd
by the hand-
14 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
courage. Special attention was given workers who had a nerv-
ous habit of cutting at every root whether or not it needed trim-
ming. Within 2 weeks the number of knife strokes was reduced
from 3.7 to 0.9 strokes per stalk. This amounted to a reduction
of 120,000 to 140,000 knife strokes per acre.
One of the most serious objections to the strippers doing the
root cutting is that they must palm the knife while stripping.
This is rather awkward and slows down the operation of strip-
ping each stalk. In addition, there is a tendency on the part of
strippers to use the knife to cut off the ribs, all of which should
be removed by hand (Fig. 12). Ribs removed with the knife
leave rib stubs around the base of the stalk and frequently the
good ribs remaining on the stalk are chipped or cut by the knife.
If these damaged ribs are not removed in the washhouse they
turn brown in a few days after the celery has been packed.
At Sanford, where the strippers work across the rows in
"downs", there has been a tendency in recent years to place
2 or 3 workers to a "down". This in part defeats the purpose
of the "down", inasmuch as the "down" is set up for the purpose
of designating each worker's area. Several individuals working
a "down" together do more visiting and less work. In all har-
vesting methods workers should be kept from bunching together
as much as possible.
All of the stripping should be done either in the field or
preferably in the washhouse. It should not be necessary to
handle every stalk twice for the purpose of stripping. Organiza-
Fig. 12.-Wrong Way to Strip. Fig. 13.-Right Way to Strip.
Stripping this way leaves stubs on root Stripping this way removes entire ri
and damages stalks, and presents a good appearance.
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 15
tion 5 in Table 2 partly illustrates this point. The field crew of
this organization did very little field stripping while the crews
of organizations 4 and 6, using the same method of harvesting,
did a great deal of stripping in the field. There was practically
no effect on the washhouse labor whether the celery was field
stripped or not. There was some additional work hauling the
surplus strippings away from the washhouse, but this item re-
quires very little labor compared with field stripping. This
shows that a worker in the washhouse who picks each stalk out
of the field crate, strips it and places it on the belt can remove
3 or 4 ribs about as easily as he can 1 or 2 ribs. It takes the
same motions for either operation. Following the method of
removing 1 stalk at a time from the field crate, the washhouse
strippers do not watch their work nearly so closely if the celery
has been carefully field stripped. The operation of picking the
celery up and placing it on the belt becomes almost mechanical
if there is little stripping to do, and as a result celery which
needs restripping in the house slips by unnoticed. Workers
handling unstripped celery in the house must of necessity watch
what they are doing.
If celery is hand stripped in the field following the method
used in the Sanford-Oviedo area, it should be performed in the
following manner to use labor most effectively (Fig. 13):
1. Bend over and grasp the stalk so that the thumb and fore-
finger point toward ground.
2. Grasp the stalk about 4 inches above the root. Avoid pick-
ing up stalk by the top.
3. Include in the grasp that part of the stalk which is to be
kept, leaving the ribs which are to be stripped off free of the
4. Maintaining a bending position, strip off the ribs by grasp-
ing a hand full at a time. Be sure that the root of the plant
is facing toward the shoulder of the arm doing the first strip-
ping, and in the opposite direction when the last stripping is
5. If the celery is brittle the ribs are easiest to remove by
pulling them straight down toward the base of the plant. If the
ribs are somewhat limber they are best removed by bending
them down toward the base of the plant in a plane parallel with
6. Once the ribs are torn loose from the stalk release them.
16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Do not throw them down or carry them in the hand any longer
than is absolutely necessary.
7. While stripping do not change position of grip holding the
8. When stripping off the last ribs the roots of the plant
should be turned directly away from the worker so that the
root may be trimmed.
9. Use the knife for trimming roots only when necessary.
10. If roots need trimming use only 1 stroke of the knife on
small stalks, 2 strokes on larger stalks. Over 3 strokes should
never be used.
11. The stalk should then be released as the reach is made
for the next plant.
12. Rest a short period of time by standing erect after each
35 to 50 stalks (1 "down") have been stripped. Do not rest
after each individual stalk is stripped. Fewer but longer periods
of rest are much better.
Field Packing.-Among organizations there is a tremendous
variation in the amount of time required to pack the celery in
field boxes (Table 3). The variation in time required is largely
due to the expertness of the packers. The crews observed had
adjusted the ratio of strippers to packers. Organization 4 used
1.7 strippers for each packer who took 13 hours to pack 10,000
stalks. The strippers for organization 4 were very slow (Table 2).
So were the packers. The strippers for organization 3 were
TABLE 3.-TIME REQUIRED TO FIELD PACK 10,000 STALKS AND THE RATIO
OF STRIPPERS TO PACKERS, 1944.
Organization Hours to Pack Strippers and
Area Number 10,000 Stalks Root Trimmers
1 8 3.6
Sanford- 2 7 3.9
Oviedo 3 14 2.4
4 13 1.7
Sarasota 5 4 4.3
6 8 2.3
7 7 2.1
Glade 9 8 2.0
Method of organization prevented accurate segregation of this operation.
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 17
about average but the packers were very slow. Organization
5 had efficient strippers and very efficient packers. This organiz-
ation did very little field stripping and the packers spent very
little time arranging the stalks in the field boxes. The packers
put 3, 4 or 5 stalks in the box at a time, working with both
hands. This practice was not followed by the other organiz-
ations. There is a tendency on the part of most organizations
to over-emphasize the importance of very neat, solid field packs.
Some insist that packers use 1 hand to hold the celery in order
in the crate and pack with the other hand, handling only 1 stalk
at a time (Fig. 14). The need for being so careful is highly
questionable, except in cases of extremely long hauls, and it
certainly results in the use of more labor.
There was little difference in the general methods used in
packing celery in field boxes. Workers in all 3 areas use some-
what the same motions except in the Sarasota area where pack-
ers fill the boxes as they pull them along the rows of stripped
celery. In the other 2 areas the packers pack from stacks of
celery prepared by the strippers (Fig. 15). Table 3 reveals that
the method used at Sarasota necessitates a slightly higher pro-
portion of packers in relation to strippers than at Sanford-Oviedo,
where the push-knife method of cutting also is used. The reason
for this is that the packers in the Sarasota area must move the
box more often as it is being filled. This is also true for or-
ganization 5, but the practice of packing 3 to 5 stalks at a time
Fig. 14.-Packing with One Hand. Fig. 15.-Packing with Both Hands.
Packing with one hand and holding with Packing with both hands is fast, but th
Other makes a neat field pack, but the form used here is poor. The box is poorly:
thod is slow. placed so that the packer must turn around
each time to place the stalks in the box.
18 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
using both hands overweighs the disadvantages of moving the
Regardless of how well the celery is packed in the field box
there is a tendency for it to fall out of the box or become crossed
when it is loaded onto the trucks. Much celery is bruised or lost
because of the difficulty of keeping it in the crates. It is possible
to use a flexible wooden strap across the top of the box by fitting
the ends under the ledges on the ends of the field boxes. This
strap is easy to place and prevents the celery from becoming
crossed in the crate during loading (Fig. 16). The strap necessi-
tates a little additional labor and for that reason some organ-
izations have hesitated to use it. On the other hand, it might
possibly save labor by saving celery on which labor has already
been expended. At present only 1 organization has reported
using it on a trial basis.
Packing by most organizations is done with the back of the
box facing the roots of the stripped celery so that each stalk
must be turned over as it is placed in the field box. This is done
to get a good tight pack as well as to place the ribs so that they
are as nearly straight as possible for top cutting. This practice
of tight packing is also a carry-over from the days when celery
was packed in the shipping crate in the field.
It is possible to turn the box around so that the celery can be
pulled into the box (Fig. 17). This also makes it easier to use
both hands to do the packing. The packers in organization 5
were doing the job in this manner and this was one of the factors
which contributed to their speed.
Top Cutting.-The tops are cut in the field by means of an
especially prepared hand saw or a machete. The hand saw
(Fig. 4) is gradually taking the place of the machete, although
the machete is still in common use in all 3 areas. An expert
topper can cut tops faster by using the machete because it
requires only 1 or 2
Shacks to remove the
tops on each box. The
"hand saw is a little
"Fig. 16.-Top for Field
This flexible strap fits
under the ledges of the
field box and keeps the
celery from becoming
crossed in the process of
Fig. 17.-Packing with
Packing with open side
of box toward celery
speeds the packing oper-
slower but accom-
plishes a much neater
job (Fig. 18). The top
cutters of some or-
ganizations used the
machete like a saw, making 4 to 8 strokes per box. The time
required for cutting the tops varied from 3.4 hours to 9.9 hours
per 10,000 stalks. The variation in this time is due more to
the size of the crew than to the methods used, and is not im-
portant except in very small crews. Working at a constant rate,
10,000 stalks can be topped in 39 minutes with a machete or 52
minutes with a hand saw. Unless the crew is extremely well
balanced, it is best to use the saw.
Most top cutters use a form top to hold the celery in the box
as it is being topped, although in the past year some have stopped
using the form altogether. The same workers were timed cut-
ting with and without the form. No difference in the time required
could be detected. When the topper works without the form,
he uses his hand as a substitute for it. The organization which
required the longest time for topping had 1 person carry and
place the form while another did the cutting (Fig. 19). In this
way 2 persons were hired to use 1 hand instead of 1 person being
Fig. 18.-Topping with Hand Saw. Fig. 19.-Two Persons Working One-handed.
The hand saw makes a neat cut, can be One person using both hands could do
ed with or without the form top and saves this job a little faster than two persons
making boxes, working with one hand.
Fig. 20.-Broken Box Caused by Topping.
When the box strap is cut, the box head soon splits.
hired to use both hands. In addition the method
was a little awkward so that the 2 could not
work quite so fast as 1 person.
The chief objection to the use of the machete
is the damage done to field boxes (Fig. 20).
The straps around the heads of the box are
cut frequently in making a forceful stroke with
the machete. This weakens the box and is one
of the main causes for field box breakages.
The use of the saw largely overcomes this
trouble, although some workers accustomed to the machete will
occasionally use the saw in the same fashion as the machete.
Considerable damage is done to the saw, as well as to the box,
when it is used in this manner.
Selection of the proper saw is of importance. The blade should
be extra long and rigid. Many saws in use were so short that
special effort was required to cut the celery tops on the bottom
of the field crate.
Stacking Boxes.-After the field boxes are packed and the
tops cut, some organizations have 1 or 2 men stack or line the
boxes in rows for the loaders. Usually a lane is left between
the lines of boxes for the trucks. As the trucks drive down the
lane the boxes are loaded. Lining them up in this fashion
necessitates handling the boxes an extra time and is not to be
recommended, particularly when the boxes are stacked in rows
2 or 3 high. If the boxes are to be lined up it is best to use a
rod with a hook for moving the boxes into line (Fig. 21). The
rod has a hook on one end which fits into the handle of the box.
The other end of the rod is equipped with a handle.
It is not necessary to line up the boxes for loading. When
the boxes are not lined up the trucks back up as they are being
loaded directly from behind the truck.
Fig. 21.-Hook for Lining up
Lining up boxes for loading is
not a good practice; but if it is
done, a hook can be used to save
strain on workers' backs.
Fig. 22.-"Telescoped" Field Boxes.
These boxes were stacked on the.
truck too far apart, allowing them
Loading.-The size of the loading crews varied from 2 to 7
and the time required to load 10,000 stalks varied from 2.5 to 6.5
man-hours (Table 4). Organizations which used 4 or less loaders
averaged 3.4 hours per 10,000 stalks and those using 5 or more
loaders averaged 5.4 hours.
TABLE 4.-NUMBER OF LOADERS IN CREWS AND TIME REQUIRED TO LOAD
10,000 STALKS, 1944.
Organization Number of Hours to Load
Area Number Loaders in Crew 10,000 Stalks
1 3 2.9
Sanford- 2 7 4.5
Oviedo 3 4 3.3
4 6 6.5
Sarasota 5 3 2.5
6 5 5.3
7 5 5.5
Belle 8 4 5.1
Glade 9 2 3.4
The number of loaders required will vary with the size of the
crew and the work accomplished by the crew. The data obtained
from the 9 organizations indicate that the most efficient loading
crews consist of 3 workers. In such a crew 1 works on the
truck stacking the boxes which are passed to him by the other
2, who work on the ground. Sometimes 2 work on the truck
Fig. 23.-Celery is Damaged by
The stake-body of a truck is not
enough support to keep the boxes
22 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
and 2 on the ground but it has been observed that the men on
the truck are not kept busy under such an arrangement. If more
than 3 loaders are required it is best to split the loading crews
into 2 units. Two small crews will accomplish more than one
large crew of loaders.
There is no uniform practice of loading the field boxes on the
trucks in a particular way. Some organizations have a large
loss of celery because of haphazard loading. Unless care and
thought are exercised the 3-sided boxes will "telescope" into one
another and damage the celery while being transported. One
of the chief causes of "telescoping" is that the loaded boxes are
not stacked closely together on the truck. The space thus left
between stacks permits the boxes to sway and fall into one an-
other (Fig. 22). Another cause of nearly equal importance is
that the boxes are not properly tied on the truck. This is par-
ticularly true when stake-bodies are used (Fig. 23). A good
method of tying is shown in Fig. 24. The knot is simple to tie
and untie. Some organizations use a V-shaped board to place
across the top boxes in the last row and the ropes are tied over
this board. Both methods are good. The latter method requires
a little more time but saves breaking the backs of some of the
boxes with the rope.
Handling Empty Boxes.-Most of the crews studied had 2
workers handling empty field boxes. The variation in rates of
accomplishment of the empty-box men depends upon the speed
Fig. 24.-Properly Stacked and Tied. Fig. 25.-Method of Loading in Frame.
These boxes do not "telescope" because Some support is gained from the stall
they are stacked close together and firmly body of the truck if the boxes are stagger
tied. against the sides of the frame.
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 23
of the strippers and packers. There was some difference among
the organizations concerning the manner in which the boxes
The loss of boxes each year through breakage is a large
item of cost. To reduce this cost some organizations have
1 worker hand the boxes to a fellow worker on the ground so
that the boxes will not be broken. The more common practice
is to push the boxes off the truck as it drives slowly through
the field. Both practices are extremes. If the unloaders are
supervised properly they can be taught to drop the boxes from
the truck as it slowly moves along, care being taken not to let
the boxes hit on the ends. The box should be dropped so that
when it hits the ground it lands on the bottom or back. If the
boxes are to be pushed off the truck, as is now the most common
practice, it is best to stack the boxes on the truck so that 4 of
them are locked together (Fig. 27). The boxes thus locked
together brace each other in the fall.
Field boxes are broken in many different ways (Fig. 28). Se-
verest damage is caused by pushing the boxes off the truck so
Fig. 26.-Usual Way of Stacking Fig. 27.-Four Boxes Locked
Field Boxes. Together for Better Support.
Empty boxes are stacked in this Four boxes locked together will
manner for greater compactness in ride well and can be pushed off the
hauling, truck with a minimum of damage.
24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
that the weak, unsupported corner hits the ground first. This
weakens the crate and will frequently put it out of use, particu-
larly if the strapping around the ends has been cut with a top-
ping knife (Fig. 20). When this strapping is cut and the box
hits on the weak corner the head splits, running with the grain
of wood (Fig. 29). The box on the right in Fig. 29 shows several
other common damages. The top back board was broken while
the boxes were being tied on the truck with a rope which was
pulled too tightly. The bottom back board was broken also
during loading by a worker trying to kick the box into position
on the truck. Other breakage is caused by trucks running over
the boxes in the field and by loaders temporarily bracing a
loaded box on the corner of another box while loading. The
former completely ruins a box while the latter will usually break
the middle slat in the bottom of the box. A box broken in the
latter fashion is usually continued in use until something else
happens to it. Figure 30 shows the damage which caused the
break down of 52 boxes which were selected at random from a
larger number of boxes shown in Fig. 28. The organization
owning these 52 boxes topped by hacking with a hand saw.
Based upon this study of broken field boxes, a new type box
was built by the author of this bulletin (Fig. 31). The features
of this new box are:
1. Lumber in heads is turned to run vertical so that the grain
will absorb shock on weak corners.
Fig. 28.-Damaged Field Boxes. Fig. 29.-Broken Heads on Boxes.
Most of this damage is caused by cutting The grain of the wood is not turned
the straps around the heads of the boxes the direction to withstand strain on we
and throwing the boxes off of the trucks, corner, especially after the strapping 1
been cut by the topping knife.
eg Methods n Flora
5 Loose ends
"p\ 6 Broken
p I Gone
I Loose end 0
P 10 Broken o
SLoose end 4 Broken 3 Gone O
2 Looe ends 6 B broken 3 Gone c
// Loose ends 5 Broken 13 Gone v o00
Stlap Ohspoint ^'- W' I
strap U 'J. cut yi0ed Boxes.
33 ut or WO 52 Celeu from the
to the Bread or n's resulting o
Sontrlbu-aig fro lower
a age a at t ,e operation space between
SeVerest de bY leav in Taiber au d for
dle automatic ces neaed for e
S ada This also r ces il not hit straPV
head boards h SO that saw wsn Ofri
.r, handle. t reducing
attend board is i be- of bo neh,
is isnset fro e. the box d on side of boe
,tnd dsthaine more
,,,ande po5 ts d" n d .o aen han
i. tboarenaid cross-nsradet 10
so that all slats on ba aate, it was
se 8 Space. -e of the bottu a : r euo t devict
educe breeaage eb t a sa,
STor e ,t he boken ut
hate sla the bottom ains
tebottothe omf th
7. The addn I esboSe.i-l'
S. The S e 2L e of
boawider materials to pre-
vent te eV a tin11
9. The sea
,, .e-New Style .
FieYd Box-^ to
This box ... showl
in Fig .
26 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
boards, cutting board and end supports are all made of the same
10. The box is made 1 inch higher because of the strengthened
heads. This offsets the loss of inside capacity caused by moving
the heads in.
This box was developed in the late spring of 1944 and has not
yet been used. Several organizations are building some for trial
CREW ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
Size of Crews.-The number of workers used in single fields
varied from 24 to 123. Some organizations used several crews
in the same field. Single crews usually consisted of 25 to 40
workers supervised by 2 foremen. The maximum size crew for
efficient work in the Sanford-Oviedo area apparently consists of
about 60 workers of which 32 are strippers, 10 packers, 6 truck
loaders, 4 truck drivers, 2 push-knife men, 2 empty-box men, 2 top
cutters, and 2 foremen. The optimum size crews were half this
size. From field to field there will be some variation in the pro-
portions of the different classes of workers but on the average
a crew of 60 can work across a 5-acre field in 1 sweep and main-
tain uniform "downs." The foremen of many crews studied in
the Sanford-Oviedo area paid little attention to the extent that
the crew "fitted" across the field and were frequently forced to
cramp the crew into a very narrow space. Laborers work at
below the average rates when they are cramped together.
In the Sarasota and Belle Glade areas the optimum size crew
is not so distinct as at Sanford-Oviedo, but it was observed that
the smaller crews were the faster ones. In the Belle Glade area
1 packer should pack for 2 strippers because the hand-knife
method of cutting is faster than the push-knife method used
at either Sanford or Sarasota. In the Sarasota area, about 5
packers should pack for 9 strippers and 4 root-trimmers. The
size of individual crews in the Belle Glade and Sarasota areas
largely depends on the amount of celery to be cut at one time.
Some crews are too large for adequate supervision and should
be divided in the field. Regardless of the amount of supervision,
if more than 1 crew is used in a single field they should be placed
as far apart as is practical.
Some of the larger organizations which employ a number of
crews have in recent years tended to use all their crews in 1
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 27
field at a time, moving the crews from field to field during the
day. It required 1 organization between 30 and 40 minutes
to move its crews each time, and it was losing the effectiveness
of 5 to 20 percent of its manpower because of this practice
(Table 5). Large crews can be used effectively in large fields
but only small prews should be sent to small fields. When more
than 1 crew is being used in a field, the field manager should
be constantly thinking of the possibility of splitting the crews
during the day in order to complete 2 fields and thus prevent
moving all workers, as well as prevent an extra move for a large
crew the next day. By careful observation of this principle the
organization shown in Table 5 should have been losing only 3 or 4
instead of 15 to 20 percent of its manpower moving the field
crews. Even when large crews are used in large fields, it is best
to keep the crews separated for the purpose of supervision. It
was noted that when a number of crews were used in the same
field working side by side, one did no more than another, but
when the same crews were separated some crews were consist-
ently faster than others. Where a number of crews are used to-
TABLE 5.-PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL FIELD LABOR LOST MOVING THE CREWS
OF ONE ORGANIZATION AND THE ESTIMATED PERCENTAGE THAT SHOULD
HAVE BEEN LOST HAD ALL MOVES FROM FIELD TO FIELD BEEN PLANNED.
TEN CONSECUTIVE DAYS, 1944.
Estimated Percentage of
Percentage of Working Working Time Which
Day Time Actually Lost Should Have Been Lost
Moving Crews from if Moves Had Been
Field to Field Planned *
1 17 7
2 19 3
3 18 3
4 10 4
5 5 0
6 18 5
7 20 0
8 20 3
9 13 3
10 20 7
This organization used a number of field crews and followed the practice of using
all crews in 1 field, moving them from field to field during working hours. The estimated
percentage of working time which should have been lost if moves had been planned was
calculated by using records kept by the organization of fields harvested, the estimated
production of each field before harvesting, the actual production of each field after harvest,
the number of workers in each crew and the daily volume harvested by each crew. The
estimate was made by assigning crews to the fields on the basis of the estimated production
of each field and the usual accomplishment of each crew. In this way, a number of different
fields would have been harvested simultaneously, thereby eliminating the moving of many
workers. For the last field to be harvested during any day, it was assumed that 50 percent
of the crew would have been moved every time following the principle of splitting the
crews for clean-up purposes. This assumption was based on a comparison of the actual
and estimated production of each field.
28 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
gether, the pace tends to be set by the slowest crew, just as the
pace of the strippers tends to be set by the slowest workers.
Balance.-Every field of celery presents a different problem
from the standpoint of crew balance. Small or diseased celery
requires a higher proportion of strippers per packer than large
or good quality celery (Fig. 32). A higher proportion is used on
Golden celery than on Pascal. Some of the better foremen adjust
their crews to these conditions, while many of the crews observed
in this study were not well adjusted. Balance is most important
for crews using the push-knife method of cutting. One push-
knife man should never be permitted to hold up 15 strippers,
yet this was observed in a number of the crews in the Sanford-
Oviedo area and occasionally in the Sarasota area. The push-
knife men should not be permitted to get too far ahead of the
strippers, but should never allow more than 3 or 4 strippers to
catch up with them. If the push-knife man consistently main-
tains this rate, the strippers will work to stay up with the push-
knife in order to gain a little rest occasionally, whereas if the
push-knife gets too far ahead, the strippers begin to lag in their
In all crews some strippers are slower than others. Care
should be taken in placing these workers in position in the field.
At Belle Glade where the celery is cut down the row, it is best
to have the faster strippers on the outside row so that the
handling of the field boxes is simplified. In cutting across the
rows, good and poor strippers should be interspersed. It is a
good practice to have 1 or 2 "catch-up" strippers help out the
slower ones and thus prevent the slower workers from holding
up the entire crew.
Training New Workers.-Some farm jobs require little instruc-
tion, but most jobs in the process of harvesting celery require
almost constant instruction. This is particularly true of strip-
ping. Much less effort will be required along this line if new
workers are properly
.W'', :a trained at first. The
proper sequence in
"-. -" '1 training is illustrated
4, "in Fig. 33. Step 1
Fig. 32.-Lack of Balance.
/ Packers will slow up the
strippers if the packers do
not have enough to do.
should show how the job is -
done, together with reasons
why it is done that way. Key
points should be emphasized
several times and all questions
should be answered. Give the
worker a chance to ask ques-
tions. In step 2 the worker
should try the job and under
close supervision all errors
the worker: "what," "why,"
"how ?" Continue the test until
you are sure he knows the job
thoroughly. Step 3 should then ,
allow the worker to be "on his
own," but under very close .
supervision. Check the work .
frequently, correct errors only
when necessary and then give
reasons, and above all encour-
age and compliment the worker
when the job is well done. Re-
member that if the worker is
not doing the job right, the
foreman has not done his job.
During the 1944 crop season
a number of growers in the
State were interested in a
mechanical harvesting ma-
chine. Several growers under-
took the construction of such
a machine. Although several
machines were used during the
latter part of the season, they
were not included in this study
Fig. 33.-The Training Sequence.
Top: Show how; center: test and
correct; bottom: frequent check-up.
Fig. 34.-Two-row Celery Cutting
Machine in Operation.
"- because the crews had not yet
been thoroughly trained to
work with such machines.
"Machines in commercial use
during 1944 were tractor-drawn and cut from 2 to 6 rows of
celery at a time (Figs. 34 and 35). Most difficult problem with
the machines has been to cut the roots at the proper length so
as to avoid shattering as well as retrimming. Unless the ma-
chines do away with trimming the roots by hand, they will be
of little value. It is expected that in the near future a celery
harvesting machine will be built that will cut the roots correctly,
top and load the celery mechanically in the field, thereby largely
eliminating the need for large field crews.
The production, harvesting and packing of Florida celery re-
quires approximately 650,000 man-days, of which nearly 1/2 is
required for harvesting and packing.
In the process of harvesting and packing as many as 10 to
15 individuals handle each stalk of celery from the time it is
cut until it is packed.
The study was made of 3 organizations in each of the 3 prin-
cipal celery producing areas of Florida. Different harvesting
methods are used in the different areas.
Among the 9 organizations there was a range in field work
from 31 to 65 hours per unit of 10,000 stalks. Washhouse labor
varied from 21 to 47 hours for 10,000 stalks. One organization
harvested and packed 10,000 stalks in 69 hours while another
required 101 hours.
Studied by operations in the entire process of harvesting and
packaging, no 1 organization was either the most or least effi-
cient in every operation.
The hand-knife method as used at Belle Glade was the fastest
method of cutting, trimming roots and stripping, but it is recom-
mended only for small crews because very close supervision must
be maintained to avoid materially damaging the celery.
The push-knife method of harvesting with strippers working
across the rows is apparently the best method for large crews.
The practice of working across the row is superior in most cases
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida 31
to working down the row because there is less confusion and
moving by the workers.
The practice of "pencil pointing" roots should be discouraged
to save labor.
In all harvesting methods workers should be kept from bunch-
ing together as much as possible.
All of the stripping should be done either in the field or prefer-
ably in the washhouse.
If celery is stripped in the field, it should be dumped onto
washhouse belt instead of being placed on the belt 1 stalk at a
If celery is stripped in the field, foremen should be acquainted
with the step-by-step procedure listed in this study.
Most organizations overemphasize the importance of very neat,
solid field packs. Except for long hauls, celery should be packed
3 to 5 stalks at a time, the packers using both hands.
A flexible strap over the top of the field box will save much
celery, particularly if the celery is to be reloaded at the edge
of the field.
Top cutting should be done with a saw to save damaging field
crates. The saw should be used in a sawing, not hacking, fashion.
A form-top may or may not be used, as there is no appreciable
difference in labor requirements.
Stacking boxes prior to loading is ordinarily a poor practice.
If boxes are to be lined up, a hook can be used to ease the job.
The optimum size loading crews consist of either 3 or 4 workers.
More workers in a crew contribute little or nothing to the output
of a crew.
Field boxes should be stacked close together for hauling. This
avoids "telescoping." The use of staked truck bodies for hauling
without tying the boxes down is a poor practice.
Empty boxes should be hauled with 4 locked together (Fig.
27). The boxes should be dropped or handed from the truck
Field boxes are broken in
many ways, but the most com-
mon damage is caused by
careless topping and unload-
Fig. 35.-Six-row Celery Cutting
Machine in Operation.
32 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
"A new field crate has been designed to reduce breakage.
"A crew of 30 workers is the optimum size for the method used
in the Sanford-Oviedo area. In other areas the best size was
not as distinct, but the smaller crews were usually the faster.
If more than 1 crew is used in a single field, they should not
work side by side.
Plantings should be carefully planned to avoid moving field
crews during the middle of the day.
Field managers of large organizations should plan their cut-
ting schedule well in advance so that the fewest workers are
moved during the working day. This is more important, as well
as more complex, than most managers believe.
The proportion of every class of worker in the field crew
should be flexible. Crew balance is of extreme importance when
the push-knife is used. The push-knife man should never be
permitted to hold up the strippers.
Training new workers carefully is very important. Foremen
should be familiar with the 3-step procedure of training and
During 1944 there was growing interest in some mechanical
method of harvesting celery. To be effective, such machines
should largely eliminate root trimming, as well as automatically
top and load the celery.