Bulletin 757 September 1973
on Organic Soils
of South Florida
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
J. W. Sites, Dean for Research
ERRATA SHEET -- Bulletin 757
Title page T. Z. Zitter should be T. A. Zitter.
Dr. Berger's title is Associate Professor (Associate Plant
Add S. R. Johnson to acknowledgments.
P. 4, para. 1, line 4 -- Terria Ceia should be Terra Ceia.
P. 7, para. 1, line 5 -- appearnace should be appearance.
P. 20, para. 5, line 7 -- becomes should be become.
P. 31, para. 5 -- Part of text for "Brown Checking" was omitted
here and appears on page 35.
P. 35 -- "Susceptible Varieties" and "Preventive" sections belong
with "Brown Checking" (see p. 31).
P. 45, Table 2, col. 1 -- Basal stalk should be Basal stalk rot.
P. 50, para. 4, line 1 -- fungi should be fungus.
P. 63, para. 2 -- add following text: Complete flooding of carefully
prepared land will kill cutworms in 72 hours. Wireworms
are harder to kill by flooding and require a minimum of 6
weeks continuous flooding for satisfactory kill percentages.
A 3-week, 2-week, 3-week (3-2-3) or 4-2-4 week alternation
of flooding to drying is also effective, but weeds must not
be allowed to grow during the drying period.
P. 63, para. 6, line 8 -- last line should read: procedures listed under
the specific insect as given in Circular 193
and the Florida Insect Control Guide Series.
P. 70, para. 1, line 3-- heavy disease pressure should be heavy
disease and insect pressure.
Pp. 70, 71 -- photos 55 and 56 are transposed.
On Organic Soils of South Florida
V. L. Guzman, H. W. Burdine, E. D. Harris, Jr., J. R. Orsenigo,
R. K. Showalter, P. L. Thayer, J. A. Winchester, E. A. Wolf,
R. D. Berger, W. G. Genung, and T. Z. Zitter
Guzman: Professor (Horticulturist), Agricultural Research and Education
Center, Belle Glade
Burdine: Professor (Plant Physiologist), Agricultural Research and Ed-
ucation Center, Belle Glade
Harris: Former Associate Entomologist, Agricultural Research and Ed-
ucation Center, Belle Glade
Orsenigo: Professor (Plant Physiologist), Agricultural Research and Ed-
ucation Center, Belle Glade
Showalter: Professor (Horticulturist), Vegetable Crops Department, Gaines-
Thayer: Former Associate Plant Pathologist, Agricultural Research and
Education Center, Belle Glade
Winchester: Former Associate Nematologist, Agricultural Research and Ed-
ucation Center, Belle Glade
Wolf: Professor (Horticulturist), Agricultural Research and Education
Center, Belle Glade
Berger: Assistant Professor (Assistant Plant Pathologist), Agricultural
Research and Education Center, Belle Glade
Genung: Professor (Entomologist), Agricultural Research and Education
Center, Belle Glade
Zitter: Assistant Professor (Assistant Plant Pathologist), Agricultural
Research and Education Center, Belle Glade
The authors are grateful to the following colleagues who reviewed the
manuscript and made suggestions and comments, many of which were incor-
porated into the text: D. W. Beardsley, J. R. Crockett, W. T. Forsee, Jr.,
G. J. Gascho, G. A. Marlowe, Jr., D. E. Purcifull, G. H. Snyder, and the
members of the publication committee from the Gainesville Campus.
The authors are also indebted to the growers who supported our research
effort by providing the land and routine care for many of the experiments
whose results are summarized here and for the numerous pictures taken on
Introduction . . . . . . . . 1
Plant Characteristics. . . . . . . . . 2
Seed . . . . .. . .. .. . . ... . 3
Cultural Requirements. . . . . . . . 3
Varieties . . . . . . . . 4
Cultural Practices. ................. 11
Production Costs. . . . . . . . .. 25
Nutritional Requirements . . . . . . .26
Physiological Disorders . . . . . . . .29
Disease Control . . . . . . . . 43
Weed Control . . . . . . . . .. 55
Nematode Control . . . . . . . . .59
Insect Control . . . . . . . . . . 62
Pesticide Residues . . . . . . 67
Application of Pesticides. . . . . . . .68
Harvesting and Marketing. . . . . . .... 70
Trade names mentioned in this bulletin imply no endorsement of these
products over other similar products not mentioned.
Since 1897, when the first commercial celery planting of 3
acre was reported in Sanford, Florida's celery acreage has increased
to 12,800 acres, with a crop value of $19,752,000 during the
1970-71 season. In the Everglades organic soil 80% or 10,540
acres were planted. North Florida (Alachua County) produced
220 acres; North Central Florida (Lake, Orange, and Seminole
Counties) 1,680 acres; and South Florida (Sarasota and Palm
Beach Counties) 10,900 acres. Regions and dates of production
are presented in Table 1.
It appears that celery was brought to Sanford by J. N.
Whitner in 1896. B. F. Whitner is credited with the first commer-
cial celery planting. He planted % acre at Sanford which was
severely injured by the 1897 freeze. However, the plants re-
covered and produced a net of $1,300. It is reported also that
S. O. Chase brought some, if not the first, celery plants when he
came to Florida in 1877. Chase and Company were the pioneers
in grading, shipping, and marketing of celery. In 1899 four freight
carloads were marketed; in 1910, 1,047; in 1950, 13,961; and in
Until the introduction of the transplanting machine, the port-
able overhead irrigation system and the large multiple row spray-
er, the celery industry remained on relatively small farms. Celery
at first was transplanted, watered, harvested, and packed by hand
Table 1.-Regions of production and approximate dates of field transplanting and
Region Transplanting Harvesting
Island Grove Jan. 5 April 25 April 20 end of July
Zellwood July 25 Sept. 10 Nov. 1 Dec. 20
Zellwood (second crop) Jan. 15 April 25 April 20 July 20
Sanford Sept. 1 Dec. 5 Dec. 15 March 1
Oviedo Sept. 25- March 25 Jan. 1 June 20
Sarasota Sept. 25 Feb. 15 Jan. 1 May 15
Everglades Aug. 1 -April 10 Nov. 10 June 30
in the field. Later the wash or packing house was introduced, and
during the fifties the mule train or mobile packing house was in-
vented. During the middle fifties the most effective chemicals for
weed control in celery were discovered,and in the middle sixties
mechanical cutting of celery was introduced.
Fertility research was started at Sanford in 1923, and correc-
tion was found for cracked stem of celery. With the discoveries at
the Everglades Station that the organic soils could maintain plant
production with the addition of copper, zinc, manganese, boron,
and other minor elements, a new zone with great potential was
opened to vegetable production. The first celery was grown at the
Brown Farm near Belle Glade about 1926.
Celery, Apium graveolens L. var. dulce, Pers., belongs to the
family Umbelliferae. Domesticated celery is a biennial. During
the first year, the plants grow vegetatively to about 30 inches tall,
reaching marketable stage in approximately six months from seed-
ing. After over-wintering the second year they produce the flower
The petioles, called "ribs" in the trade, are long, thick, succu-
lent, crisp, and aromatic and constitute the edible part of the
plant. The petioles of the compound leaves are attached in a
rosette pattern to the semi-spherical crown or stem, which is not
visible from the outside. When young plants are exposed to
periods of low temperatures below 600F for several days, they
may "bolt" or produce the flower stalk during the first year, be-
fore reaching marketable stage. This is referred to as premature
seeding and has caused considerable yield loss in easy-bolting Utah
varieties in some seasons in Florida. When celery flowers, the
crown grows to a well differentiated stem several feet tall which
bears the flowers and additional small compound leaves. The
greenish-white flowers are small and inconspicuous.
Generally, in South Florida, cold exposure occurs in January,
and premature seeders appear in mid-April, becoming most preva-
lent during the first half of May. Mean temperatures above 700F
for several days, following cold exposure of young plants, nullifies
or reduces bolting. Therefore, losses due to premature seeding
rapidly decrease after mid-May and become negligible after May.
The plant has a strong predominant tap root. Lateral roots
are very numerous and extend a few feet in all directions, but the
greatest root concentration is in the upper 6 inches, particularly in
the top 3 inch layer of organic soil. Roots can be found almost on
.the soil surface.
Celery has a strong characteristic aroma which is due to volatile
oils in the plant and particularly in the seeds. In addition to the
volatile oils celery contains a glycoside, which in very small
quantities produces a bitter taste. Bitterness seems to vary with
varieties and seasons in which the celery is grown. Late spring
celery is usually slightly bitter. A burning-numbing principle has
also been isolated. In addition to these highly elusive ingredients,
sugars, salts, and other ingredients probably play an important
role in determining the taste quality of celery.
The seeds are very small, ribbed, brown, with flattened sides,
and are slightly elongated. One ounce contains approximately
70,000 seeds. Under proper storage conditions of low tempera-
tures and humidity they are viable for several years. High moisture
and temperature decrease life span and vigor of the seeds. Celery
seeds show appreciable loss of germination in six to nine months
at 80% relative humidity and 500F. Seeds in cold storage but at
high humidity when removed to a high temperature environment
lose ability to germinate within a few weeks. Celery seeds remain
viable for five or more years if dried to 6% moisture, placed in a
moisture-proof container, and kept at 400 to 500F.
The best growing period for celery is during the dry, cool
winter months, provided that no prolonged and/or severe freezing
temperatures occur. A daily mean temperature of 640F (730F
maximum, 50OF minimum) appears satisfactory for good growth
with few disease and insect problems. Although growth is satis-
factory during short days, increased light intensity and day length
are beneficial. The growth rate is slower when the temperature
drops below 500F. At the end of January, temperatures and day
length increase, providing optimum conditions for growth. Har-
vests from the end of February through April produce the highest
yield and quality. High temperature and rainfall from May to Sep-
tember are conducive to disease development and insect infesta-
tion, which reduce the rate of growth, reduce yield, and increase
Seedlings are grown in seedbeds from May until early April.
Transplanted celery is grown from early August to late June.
Thus, before celery of the current season's crop is completely har-
vested, seedbeds for next season's crop have already been seeded.
Soils and Water
For many years celery was grown extensively in Leon fine
sand soil around Sanford. Most celery is now grown in organic
soils ranging in depths from 1 to 19 feet and from sawgrass peat to
Pamlico and Terria Ceia muck. A deep organic soil with an effi-
cient network for drainage and irrigation is best. Although good
crops are grown in virgin organic soil, older soils are more satis-
factory, probably due to their greater compaction, frost-protection
properties, and higher mineral content. New loose organic soils
have better drainage characteristics; however, if infested with
nematodes they are more likely to produce poor crops during hot
The most desirable soil pH is 5.8. The pH range of organic
soils is from 5.3 to 7.5.
Celery fields should be leveled carefully to assure a uniform
depth to the sub-irrigation water table. A level soil surface is also
necessary for proper mechanical cutting of the celery stalks.
An abundant and constant water supply is required for suc-
cessful celery production. In the Everglades, where the supply of
water by sub-irrigation is plentiful, rapid drainage after heavy
rains before damage to the roots occurs is a most critical con-
Consumer demand in recent years has caused a complete
shift in production from yellow or golden to green varieties. Tall
Utah 52 70, which was introduced into Florida by the Agri-
cultural Research and Education Center, Belle Glade in 1953,
along with lines developed from it, has gradually replaced the
shorter Summer Pascals which followed the Golden varieties.
Utah 52 70.-A vigorous growing, widely adapted variety,
Utah 52 70 was developed by the Ferry Morse Seed Company.
Under most favorable midwinter conditions, plants grow 28 to 30
inches tall. They have a spreading top, few suckers, and medium
dark green leaves. The petioles are thick, rounded, slightly ribbed,
and compact and average approximately 9 inches to the first node.
Yellowing of the older leaves caused by magnesium deficiency
occurs in 25% of the plants. Plant height and rib length show
some variability. Heart formation and eating quality are good.
The plants are very susceptible to leaf blights and to premature
seeding when they have been subjected to prolonged periods of
cold weather, especially while growing on the seedbeds. This vari-
ety was widely grown but now has been almost entirely replaced.
Figure 1. -- Tall Utah 52-70. Medium to dark green ribs. Plants are more variable
than the two varieties, 2-13 and 683, both of which were selected from 52-70.
Florida 2-13.-Selected by the Florida Celery Exchange from a
single plant selection of Utah 52 70, Florida 2 13 has been used
extensively for all-season production. The plants are slightly
shorter, have a compact top, have fewer suckers, and are darker
green than Utah 52 70. Petiole length is about the same as
52 70 but petiole width is greater. The number of petioles is
fewer than 52 70. Heart formation is good, and the plants
are very attractive when packed. Plants of 2 13 are very suscep-
tible to leaf blights and premature seeding. Severe transverse node
cracking sometimes occurs when conditions are favorable for de-
velopment of this disorder.
Florida 683.-This variety was selected by the Agricultural
Research and Education Center, Belle Glade from Utah 52 70.
It is increasing in popularity in the Everglades area for late fall and
winter harvest, where it is superior to the parent variety and the
Figure 2. Florida 2-13. Popular variety extensively grown. Heavy ribs, dark
green color. Susceptible to node crack. (Note right-hand stalk next to ruler.)
2 13 selection in yield and rib count. The plants are slightly
shorter, more compact, darker green in color, with very little or
no node cracking, and are more uniform than 52 70. It is very
susceptible to leaf blights. It is not recommended for transplant-
ing in the Everglades area after January 1 because it is very suscep-
tible to premature bolting.
Florida 2-14..- The Florida Celery Exchange selected this
variety from Florida 2-13 and tested it as 2-13 selection 3.
Height, conformation and color are about the same as for Florida
683, but rib length in the spring averages 2 inches longer than the
parent line and 2 inches longer than Florida 683. Yields of
Florida 2-14 and Florida 683 were similar in a spring test but
significantly higher than that of Florida 2-13, which was greatly
reduced by heavy stripping due to severe node cracking. Yield,
rib length, and appearnace of 2-14 were superior to both Florida
683 and 2-13 in late November harvest. The 2-14 has fewer ribs
than Florida 683 but more than 2-13. Although it is very sus-
ceptible to leaf blights, this strain shows considerable promise for
late fall harvest in the Everglades area because of its long rib length.
Figure 3. -- Florida 683. Compact plants, dark green color, excellent heart forma-
tion, with more ribs than 2-13. Resistant to node crack, vigorous growing variety.
S' This variety is less sus-
ceptible to premature seed-
ing than Florida 683 and
Utah 52-70H.-This vigor-
ous growing strain selected
by Ferry Morse from Utah
52-70 has been grown for
late fall harvest in the Ever-
glades area when it is diffi-
cult to get good rib length.
Petiole length generally aver-
ages 1 to 2 inches more than
regular Utah 52-70. This
variety is very susceptible to
Florimart.-This is an in-
termediate Summer Pascal-
Utah type variety developed
by Ferry Morse Seed Compa-
ny from a cross between the
early blight resistant Emer-
I- ald variety released by the
P Everglades Station in 1958
-. and Utah 15. Because of
its excellent resistance to
both early and bacterial leaf
Figure 4. -- Florida 2-14 was selected blights and slow bolting
from Florida 2-13. It is quite susceptible to characteristics, Florimart
leaf blights and somewhat resistant to pre-
mature bolting. has been grown on a small
acreage in early fall and late
spring; however, it has met
with limited acceptance because of its slightly shorter rib length
and extreme susceptibility to node cracking. In the early stages of
growth, plants of this variety grow slowly and when transplanted
into the field develop a very spreading, low growth, which makes
it quite distinctive.
Earlibelle.-This new variety, released in 1970 by the Agricultural
Research and Education Center, Belle Glade, has moderate re-
sistance to early blight caused by Cercospora apii Fres. The plants
are intermediate in type between Utah and Summer Pascal, grow
to the same height as Florida 683, and are a little lighter green.
Petiole length to the first node is comparable to that of Florida
683, but the petioles are more rounded and less ribbyy," and the
plants are less compact. Flavor of Earlibelle is good but slightly
more pronounced than that of Florida 683. Earlibelle plants
mature about four days before Florida 683 and 2-13. Earlibelle is
recommended for transplanting in the Everglades area during
August and early September.
June-Belle.-This is another new variety released in 1970 by
the Agricultural Research and Education Center, Belle Glade,
having moderate resistance to early blight. Plants of this variety,
Figure 6. -- Earlibelle plants harvested during November. This variety is resistant to
like those of Earlibelle, are intermediate in type between Utah
and Summer Pascal. In the very late transplantings in South
Florida, for which June-Belle was developed and is recom-
mended, plant height, petiole shape, length, and width are about
the same as those of Florida 2-13, and color is a little lighter
green. June-Belle petioles are smooth and less affected by
transverse node cracks than Florida 2-13. Petiole length and
width of June-Belle are comparable to those of Florida 2-13, but
petioles are about an inch shorter and definitely wider than those
of Florida 2-14. Plants of June-Belle have shown some tolerance
to late blight and western celery mosaic. They mature about
four days before those of Florida 2-13. June-Belle is more
susceptible to bacterial leaf spot than Earlibelle in early fall
Miscellaneous Varieties.-Other varieties have been success-
fully grown in Florida but have failed to be generally accepted
for one or more limitations or defects. These include Greenlite,
Utah 16-11, Utah 10-B, Compak 1, Compak 2, and the Summer
Pascals 259-19 and D-5.
Figure 7. -- June-Belle plants harvested in June. This variety is resistant to early and
Land preparation.--Raised seedbeds usually occupy the same
tract of land for several years, since installation of the irrigation
and drainage network is unique and expensive. The land should
be plowed if necessary, disked, and leveled very carefully before
and after floodings to obtain an almost perfectly level surface.
A riser in both the irrigation and drainage pipes in each set (about
32 beds) facilitates handling of the water. Customarily, beds are
62 feet from center to center, 10 inches in height, and 300 feet in
length. They have a planting width of 4 feet. This gives a total
planting area of 1,200 square feet per bed. Raised beds are care-
fully leveled by filling the intervening furrows with water and
marking depressions or high areas after the water reaches the top
of the beds. After two or three days of drying, the beds are lev-
eled, usually by hand, by removing the high ground or by adding
more soil to lower spots. This procedure is expensive but essential
if the seed is to be broadcast. If the seed is to be drilled, good
initial leveling of the ground and careful seedbed preparation by
mechanical means are sufficient. Seed placed %A inch deep have
enough moisture for germination, in most cases, without the
usual daily irrigation.
For flat beds, the land is plowed, disked, mole-drained, and
leveled, and superficial ditches are dug about 100 feet apart and
parallel to the beds. These ditches should connect with the lateral
ditches. The number of beds between ditches varies to suit the
swath of the pesticide sprayer.
When drilling the seed, the mechanics of seedbed preparation
can be accomplished easily, rapidly, and in assembly line fashion.
The fertilizer is broadcast and incorporated into the leveled beds
with a rotary cultivator, packed with a roller, and seeded in a mat-
ter of a few hours.
There are several machines for drilling celery seed. Eight
Planet Jr. 11036X narrow row seeders assembled together will drill
24 rows per bed. The most popular machines are those developed
MINIMUM COATED FULL COATED
Figure 8. -- Only raw seed is used commercially in this area. Minimum coated seed
germinates more readily than full coated seeds. More precise planting can be accom-
plished with coated seed, but germination behavior is unpredictable.
Figure 9. -- Celery hand drill deposits the seed one-fourth inch deep in bottom of
furrow. There is no need for daily irrigation to attain seed germination. Normal
moisture at the seed level is sufficient.
by the Agricultural Research and Education Center, Belle Glade.
The drills have a front roller with furrow openers, a plastic cylinder
hopper, and a seed-covering roller in the back. There are one
hand and two tractor drawn models. All of these drills will plant
the seed 1A inch deep in rows 2 inches apart.
Structures for Seedling Protection.--Celery seed will not ger-
minate satisfactorily when the soil surface temperature is above
900F. From May to the middle of October, muck soil surface
temperatures may exceed 120OF for several hours daily; therefore,
seedbeds must be shaded. One method of seedbed shading is
with muslin curtains over each bed supported by wooden "A"
frames. These structures also give protection against blowing
rains. Permanent, high, continuous shade structures is the other
method. These structures are 8 feet above ground and more ef-
ficient as far as mechanization is concerned. Saran, polypropylene,
and mesh paper with 55% shade give satisfactory protection.
Permanent high structures may be more expensive than the
muslin curtains and "A" frames, but last longer, and care of the
seedlings is accomplished with less man-power. Solar radiation
has usually diminished by about October 15, soil surface temper-
atures are below 900F, and no further protection is necessary.
Irrigation of Seedbeds.--When the seed is broadcast on top of
the raised beds, the surface soil must be water-saturated during
germination. A high pump capacity is needed for raised beds and
broadcast seeding to fill the furrows rapidly between the beds.
Slight desiccation of the top of the beds when the seeds are ger-
minating results in lower stand. Each morning the water level is
raised to 1 inch below the surface of the bed. In the evening, the
water is slowly drained because of possible rain during the night.
The process is repeated daily until germination is completed.
Thereafter water is applied as needed. With drilled seed on raised
beds, irrigation is similar to that described above, but is not a daily
operation. The soil is merely soaked thoroughly two or three
times as needed. With drilled seed on flat beds, water is supplied
by infiltration and/or overhead sprinkling. Sprinkling is done on
top of the muslin curtains and on top of or under permanent
Figure 10. Hand seeder broadcasts the seed on bed surface. Germination takes
place after several days of water saturation of the soil surface.
Figure 11. -- Tractor-drawn celery drill. Front cylinder opens furrow, second plastic
cylinder holds seed, and the last covers seed by pressing.
Figure 12. -- Tractor-drawn celery drill machine at left is based on the Planet Jr.
parts. The one at the right has a long undivided hopper. In both machines the furrows
are opened by pointed tubes through which seed is deposited in the ground. Seeds are
covered by individual press wheels.
-_ .. .. -l iM ,.. ..,. --. _cl
Figure 13. -- Large seedbed area protected by polypropylene shade on permanent
supports. Pump in foreground feeds clean well water to the overhead sprinkler for
Figure 14. -- The seeded soil is to be water saturated all day long when celery seeds
are broadcast. When drilling the seed one-fourth inch deep (bed in the middle), normal
soil moisture is sufficient for good germination. Curtains are not usually necessary after
October 15, when soil surface temperature is below 90F.
shade structures, and applied as often as necessary. High water
levels in the lateral ditches help germination in flat beds.
Celery seed germinates in about 10 days. When temperatures
are low, germination may require about 20 days.
Hardening the Transplants.--For good plant survival in the
field it is necessary to toughen the seedlings to withstand the
shock of transplanting. Celery is hardened by triming the tops,
which retards growth. Topping of seedlings, although a growth-
retarding process, seems to be necessary to avoid poor stand, espe-
cially when transplanting in hot weather. Topping toughens the
lower tissues by letting more light penetrate to the base of the
plants. Depending on growth rate, trimming or topping is prac-
ticed from the time the seedlings are 4 to 5 inches tall (6 to 8
weeks old). It is better to start topping early and do it more often
than to top heavy and late. One heavy topping (50% of the
foliage) just before transplanting reduces yields, mostly by re-
ducing stand because of sun scald and damping off. Two to eight
toppings depending on the season appear to be sufficient for har-
Figure 15. Celery seed beyond protection of the curtain (foreground) failed to
germinate. In contrast, germination was excellent where temperature of soil surface
was reduced below 90F by the curtain.
"* '- -
Figure 15. Celery seed beyond protection of the curtain (foreground) failed to
germinate. In contrast, germination was excellent where temperature of soil surface
was reduced below 90F by the curtain.
Figure 16. -- The curtains are rolled back for spraying and sunning. Sunning exposes
the plants progressively for longer periods daily, until the curtains are removed. No
permanent ill effect, however, occurs when the curtains are removed completely at four
to five weeks from seeding.
dening. Usually plants are 5 to 6 inches high and they have three
to six leaves at transplanting time. During the winter when
growth is delayed and transplanting is done during cool weather,
topping could be omitted, especially if transplanting is done with
8 to 10 week old seedlings. These small plants have a faster initial
growth rate than 12 week or older seedlings.
Seedbed Management.--The ultimate goal is to produce uni-
form seedlings free of diseases, insects, nematodes, damage by
inclement weather, and weeds.
With the intensive cropping system in celery seedbeds, there
is generally not sufficient time to grow a cover crop. Judicious
management should provide enough time for flooding for control
of soil-borne parasites, for land preparation and fumigation to
further enhance control of parasites, and a rest period before
actual sowing of the seeds.
The seedlings are protected from rain and excessive radiation
by the shades. Excessive protection is also harmful; too much
shade tends to produce elongated, rank growth. With permanent
shade structures, the shade is removed about 5 weeks after seeding.
With A frames, beginning 3 to 4 weeks after germination, the
seedlings are progressively exposed daily to direct sunlight for
longer periods. This hardens the tissues and retards top growth.
Six to eight weeks after seeding the shades are removed. Ample
water supply promotes growth. Too much water tends to increase
diseases, particularly those affecting the roots. It is important to
have uniform, well-formed seedlings for one pulling operation,
particularly for mechanical pulling. The best population appears
to be 60 to 70 seedlings per square foot. With 60 seedlings per
square foot a bed produces 72,000 plants, sufficient for 1l acres
in the field. With 70 seedlings per square foot a bed produces
94,000 plants enough for 2 acres in the field. The use of too much
seed per bed without thinning results in uneven, poorly developed
seedlings. In this case, selective pulling of seedlings for transplant-
ing is the only means of partially overcoming the lack of uni-
formity. This naturally increases the harvest cost, since more
pulling are necessary to harvest each bed. The amount of seed to
be used per bed depends on germination percentage, vigor, size
of the seed, and whether the young seedlings will be thinned.
Theoretically, 1.2 ounces of seed with 80% germination could
produce 72,000 seedlings. In practice, however, 2 ounces of
good seed per bed is usually necessary. During hot months this
amount should be increased slightly. It is advisable to seed
heavily and thin the extra plants two weeks after emergence.
Figure 17. Drilled flat seedbeds in a commercial field. Rows are 2 inches apart.
Irrigation is done by sub-irrigation or by overhead sprinkling.
Probably the best solution in obtaining satisfactory popula-
tion is to use minimum coated seed planted with a precision
seeder. Minimum coated seed must be drilled into the soil. Ample
moisture is necessary for even, rapid germination. Germination of
fully coated celery seed has been satisfactory in raised beds with
Germination of celery is faster when seeded 1/ inch deep
than at /2 inch. Continuous daily irrigation in drilled raised beds
accelerates germination about 2 days. Planting depth has a more
pronounced effect than irrigation. Soil surface temperature has a
still greater effect than depth or irrigation. Soil surface tempera-
tures above 900F decrease germination rapidly in proportion to
the increase in temperature.
Land Preparation for Transplanted Celery.--There is no sub-
stitute for careful planning of all celery operations, particularly
land preparation. Ample time should be allowed for plowing,
disking, and leveling before flooding. Control of nematodes, soil-
borne diseases, and insects by flooding is important, especially in
land where the fall and late spring crops are to be grown. The
longer the flooding period the better the control of wireworms.
A schedule of 4 weeks of flooding, 2 of drying, and 4 of flooding,
After flooding, the land should be plowed, disked, leveled,
mole-drained, and fertilized. Light disking as often as necessary
may be needed for weed control. Hasty land preparation, espe-
cially when wet, compacts the soil and induces poor growth. The
land should be disked lightly and rolled daily ahead of transplant-
Plant and Row Spacing.--Yield is a function of plant pop-
ulation. When high plant population begins to interfere with qual-
ity, it is advisable to reduce the number of plants. A compromise
between highest population and highest quality is desirable. Yields
progressively increase from 32, 28, 24, and 20 inch rows and from
8, 7, and 6 inch plant spacing as the row and plant spacing be-
comes closer. Appearance at times is slightly better with 28 inch
rows than with 24, and always better with 24 inch rows than with
20. Disease incidence is slightly more severe with close row and
plant spacing than with wider spacing. Celery grown in 24 inch
rows with 7 inch plant spacing consistently produces high yields
of good quality. Row spacing has greater effect on yields than in-
Figure 18. -- Large size reversible plow helps to maintain level soil surface by plowing
whole field in the same direction.
row plant spacing. A satisfactory practice is to plant in 24 inch
rows with plants 7 to 8 inches apart for fall and late spring harvest
and from 6 to 7 inches for winter harvest.
Transplanting.--Seedlings are pulled and boxed by hand. After
watering, the seedlings are transported to the transplanters. These
machines have 4, 6, or 12-row wheels and usually require two
workers per row. Setters place the seedlings in the transplanting
wheels. Other helpers supply the setter with plants and fill the
occasional skips. Eight to nine z/ mile long transplanter swaths is a
good average for a 10-hour day. A 12-row machine can transplant
from 10 to 12 acres daily.
Irrigation.--Immediately following transplanting, the celery is
overhead-irrigated. During hot weather a greater amount of water
is necessary to wet the soil than during cool days. It is important
that moisture from the overhead system meets the moisture sup-
plied by sub-surface infiltration. It is convenient and efficient to
irrigate on half of the transplanted swath as the machine trans-
plants the other half. Water in the lateral ditches is kept as high as
Figure 19. Eversman leveler, commonly used for preliminary leveling of celery
Figure 20. -- Sarasota land leveler and roller used mostly for finishing leveling jobs
and for fitting the soil after discing just prior to transplanting.
possible before and after transplanting. After the plants begin to
recover from the shock of transplanting, the water in the lateral
ditches is lowered to maintain an 18 to 20 inch water table in the
field. Celery can be grown with water tables lower than 20 inches,
but growth is not optimum. Too high a water table also impairs
Sub-soiling.--About eight weeks after transplanting, some
growers sub-soil by drawing the shank of a cultivator 8 to 10
inches deep between the rows. It is claimed that loosening the
compact soil promotes better plant growth. Sub-soiling, however,
destroys a large number of roots and in the majority of cases
Growth Rate.--There are differences in the growth rate of cel-
ery varieties, but all have more rapid growth rate shortly before
reaching market maturity. Celery matures in about 80 days in the
fall and late spring, and from 90 to 105 days during the winter.
The mean time from transplanting to harvest is 90 days. The Utah
types usually reach the peak of growth a few days after the Sum-
mer Pascal types. During early spring Utah 52-70 increases in
weight about 19% from the previous week between the 70th and
77th day from transplanting, 23% between the 77th and the 84th
day, and 24% between the 84th and 91st day. The growth rate
rapidly decreases after reaching the peak. Pithiness, feather leaf,
and cracking at the node increase steadily as soon as weight in-
crease ceases. It is not easy to ascertain when celery reaches max-
imum growth. The technique of transplanting and harvesting
daily afTabout the same interval makes prediction of harvesting
dates less complicated. However, weather variations at times
cause certain fields to mature slightly ahead of others. The best
procedure to predict peak of growth or maturity is by careful in-
Figure 21. -- Bulk handling of fertilizer. Gigantic spreader broadcasts the fertilizer
on 50 acres daily using one man.
Figure 22. -- Celery transplanter machine is self propelled and guided. Each machine
transplants about 12 acres daily with 22 persons per machine. The basic unit is the
Figure 23, -- Large sidedressing machine applies fertilizer in surface bands. Soon
after, a rototiller incorporates the fertilizer into the soil.
Figure 24. Soil tillage with a tillivator usually helps to control weeds and mixes
top-dress fertilizer into the soil.
section of the fields as they approach tentative harvesting dates
for the season. In a well-managed crop, without adverse weather
interference, harvest is done when the petiole height and width
for the variety is attained, when the heart petioles are well devel-
oped and pithiness and feather leaf just begin to appear. It is
advisable, however, to harvest slightly in advance of date of opti-
mum maturity. There will be some losses in yield, but the quality
will be higher. If too close a harvesting schedule is followed and a
delay occurs, this will result in abandoning part of the crop be-
cause of overmaturity.
Direct Field Seeding.--Beginning in October, soil surface
temperatures decline, and celery can be seeded directly in the
field. Yields usually are equal to or better than transplanted cel-
ery, and plants mature in less total time. Limited commercial at-
tempts several years ago indicated that advantages of direct seed-
ing of celery were at that time not great enough to overcome the
Production costs vary from region to region, and from farm
to farm, but are increasing each year. During the 1969 70 season,
1 acre of celery cost approximately $732.22 in the Everglades and
$1102.17 in Sarasota. In the Everglades, harvesting and marketing
cost about $1010.30. There was a net loss per acre of $30.21 for
the Central region, a gain of $314.16 for the Everglades, and a gain
of $680.44 for Sarasota. The average yields for these three areas
were 389, 524, and 934 crates per acre, respectively.
Response to Soil pH
The optimum soil pH of these organic soils for most vege-
tables is about 5.8. Near this value manganese, boron, phosphorus,
and calcium seem to be available in the most favorable balance for
most crops, eliminating the need for supplementary nutritional
The pH values of soils on which celery is being grown range
from pH 5.3 to 7.5, with the largest portion ranging from 6.0 to
6.5. On the lower part of the pH range a physiological disorder
known as blackheart may be more severe. Molybdenum deficien-
cy has been observed on limited areas where the pH is below 5.0.
At pH values above 6.0 more nodal and stem cracking appear.
Some golden varieties suffer yield reduction where pH levels
are above 6.0, because of manganese deficiency and possibly the
lower soil phosphorus availability. Summer Pascal seems fairly
insensitive to pH within these ranges although nodal cracking in-
creases slightly above 6.0. Utah 52-70, Florida 2-13, and Florida
683 give definite yield increases to pH levels above 6.0 if soil
boron levels are high enough. Boron sprays may reduce yields
where soil pH levels are below 5.5. The differences in response by
the Utahs seem to be due to their ability to more efficiently use
soil manganese and phosphorus at the higher pH range.
The Utah type celery now being grown gives a greater re-
sponse to supplemental nitrogen on the organic soils than the
Summer Pascal previously grown. As would be expected, the
magnitude of this increase is affected by seasonal temperature
variations as well as by heavy rainfall which normally occurs in the
early fall and again in May. Higher temperatures increase micro-
biological activity, resulting in rapid nitrification of the naturally
high organic nitrogen content of the soil. Heavy rainfall leaches
the nitrates formed as a result of this microbial action.
Celery seedlings to be pulled before December first should
receive 65 pounds of supplementary nitrogen per acre or about
2 pounds of nitrogen per bed. Plants to be pulled after December
1 should receive about 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre or about
3.3 pounds per bed. Ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, or
urea are suggested as nitrogen sources for seedbeds. These sources
produce plants of higher dry weight values which are not as brittle
and consequently do not break as easily when pulled as plants re-
ceiving all nitrate nitrogen. Supplemental nitrogen may be ap-
plied all in one application with these sources immediately follow-
ing removal of seedbed covers, about 40 days after seeding.
Seventy-five pounds of nitrogen per acre should be used on
celery in the field where harvest is to take place before December
1. For celery to be harvested between December 1 and April 1,
about 130 pounds of nitrogen per acre should be applied. Celery
harvested after April 1 should receive about 65 pounds of nitrogen
per acre. These amounts of nitrogen may be sidedressed in a
single application 35-42 days after transplanting by using ammo-
nium nitrate as the nitrogen source. If nitrogen sources containing
all nitrate nitrogen are used, two equal applications 35 and 60
days after transplanting are needed. Nitrogen in the preplant
broadcast fertilization is not needed on organic soils.
Phosphorus, Potassium, and Micronutrient Fertilization
Seedbed areas are usually located in more or less permanent
locations. Soil-borne pests are controlled by flooding and fumiga-
tion practices described elsewhere in this bulletin. Flooding prac-
tices result in raising the soil pH 1.0 unit or more, which gradually
drifts back toward the original level, sometime after plants are
harvested. The uniformity of these practices enables growers
to follow a constant annual level of fertilizer rates. One thousand
pounds per acre of 0-10-24 containing 1.0% MnO, 0.6% B203, and
300 pounds per ton of agricultural sulfur will supply the needed
nutrients, which can be applied and disked in before seedbeds are
thrown up. The suggested analysis assumes that the grower will
apply copper, zinc, and manganese in the disease control spray
program necessary for this area. When seedbed areas are moved,
soil sampling and fertilizer application according to soil tests are
needed to start the new cycle.
Previously Cropped Soil.--Soil tests should be used as a guide
for the application of phosphorus and potassium. Soil tests, when
properly correlated with yield and quality, show relative amounts
of these elements in the soil available for plant use and allow for a
close approximation of the amount of these plant nutrients that
need to be applied for maximum yields and quality. A celery crop
requires large amounts of these elements; yet when celery is over
fertilized or when these elements are out of balance, reduced
growth and physiological disorders occur and result in poor quality
and reduced yields.
Phosphorus should be applied broadcast to bring phosphorus
levels to 25 pounds of water soluble phosphorus per acre. Suf-
ficient potassium should be broadcast to bring 0.5 normal acetic
acid soluble potassium to about 230 pounds per acre. Side-dressed
applications of a total of 240 pounds of K20, 120 pounds per acre
in each of two applications made the 5th and 8th week after trans-
planting, will bring soil potassium levels to about 350 pounds per
acre (EES soil test methods), the amount recommended for celery
on organic soils.
Where pH levels are 6.0 and above, 7.2 pounds B203 and 10
pounds MnO per acre should be used in the broadcast fertilizer ap-
plication. Where pH level is below 6.0, 5.4 pounds B203 per acre
Virgin Soil.--Sizable areas of virgin soil still remain in the
Everglades area. Celery plantings are occasionally made on new
land. These areas require careful treatment to insure good incorpo-
ration of micronutrients into the soil to produce a uniformly
good crop. Most of these areas are now far from Lake Okee-
chobee. Some of these soils may contain only 15% or less mineral
material as ash. The pH may be 5.5 or lower with the exception
of severely burned areas. Some of these fields have reddish
colored soil in areas that may occupy sizable portions of a field.
The pH of these areas may be below 5.0, and may need liming to
prevent deficiencies of molybdenum and other elements. Soil
samples should be taken separately from such areas for pH
determinations and liming recommendations. Soil applications of
molybdenum are not recommended.
Figure 25. -- Molybdenum deficiency in celery growing in Everglades peat soil, pH 4.5.
After clearing and the original plowing and leveling, 500
pounds per acre of 0-8-24 containing 1.5% CuO should be ap-
plied broadcast, disked in, and then plowed down, and the land
refitted. Following this, 2000 pounds per acre of 0-12-24
containing 0.7% CuO, 0.7% ZnO, 0.5% MnO, and 0.36% B203
should be broadcast, disked in, and the land refitted for plant-
ing. About 5 weeks after transplanting, the transplanted celery
should be sidedressed with about 500 pounds of 0-8-24. A
second application of 500 pounds per acre should be applied 8
weeks after transplanting.
Most of these disorders are traceable to nutritional factors
resulting from nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. However,
they also seem to be affected by certain environmental factors.
Differences in susceptibility between varieties and strains are
genetic. Practically all occur in their most severe and damaging
instances during the last three weeks of the approximately 90-
day field growing period. The dangers progressively increase as
the plant approaches market maturity. Control must be pre-
ventive, not curative.
For some of the disorders, boron nutritional sprays are
suggested for combinations of high pH, susceptible varieties, or
other nutritional considerations. Sprays containing 1.0 pound
of Solubor (20.5% boron) or its boron equivalent in another
readily soluble form of boron in 100 gallons of water for each
application are applied. These are to be applied as 6 or 7 weekly
sprays the last six weeks of the growing period. Frequent sprays
at lower rates are more effective than infrequent sprays at higher
rates. Boron should be applied to the heart of the plants. Boron
sprayed on old leaves is not effective. Boron should not be mixed
in the same solution with copper. Total spray applications of 20
pounds per acre of Solubor (4 pounds of boron) may be toxic.
Symptoms.--This condition is characterized by the death of
heart tissue, which turns dark brown or black. The severity of the
disorder may vary from partial death of one or more heart leaflets,
to the death of the entire heart and growing point.
Seasonal Occurrence.--A small amount of blackheart is oc-
casionally seen in the fall growing season, but the only blackheart
of significance in the Everglades area occurs in the spring season
beginning about April 15.
Susceptible Varieties.--Summer Pascal is most susceptible, Utah
52-70 probably next, followed with Florida 2-13, and Florida
683 the least susceptible, if blackheart on non-bolting plants only
is considered. Plants with seed stems have a tendency to show
more blackheart than non-bolting plants.
Cause.--Basic cause of blackheart is calcium deficiency, although
it is strongly influenced by other factors. Under Everglades
conditions, it becomes more severe as pH levels decrease below
6.0. It is more severe where potassium levels are extremely high.
Fluctuating water tables causing the soil to become either too dry,
or too wet may result in severe blackheart. It is very difficult to
hold mature plants in the field in the warm spring months without
Sandy soils in the Sarasota and Sanford celery growing
areas are subject to high build-ups of soluble salts, not only from
a long history of fertilizer use, but from use of water with a high
salt content. Such areas have been noted for occurrence of
Preventive.--Beginning about April 1, growers should routinely
apply weekly sprays containing 5 pounds of calcium chloride or
10 pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 gallons of solution to the
heart of the plants. After May 1 it may be necessary to apply such
sprays twice weekly. Spraying should start about 50 days after
transplanting. Spray machines with special nozzle arrangements
that will drench and thoroughly wet the heart should be used.
One hundred gallons of solution per acre are sufficient until plants
have been set in the field about 70 days. Following this, 150-200
gallons of solution per acre are necessary to thoroughly penetrate
and wet the heart of the compact Utah types now being grown.
The water table should not be radically altered during the
season, but slowly raised as temperatures increase during May.
The celery plant should be kept in a turgid condition. If a grower
observes taller petioles in a drooping condition during the
highest day temperatures, blackheart is sure to occur if calcium
sprays are not being regularly applied.
Symptoms.--Brown lesions occur on inside of the rib and at
times may be confused with pencil stripe. The edges of the
quarter moon shaped petioles may nearly or completely close in
below the node, thus hiding the dark brown lesions. Brown
checking may be present with or without cracked stem.
Seasonal Occurrence.--This condition may occur during any
part of the normal growing season.
Cause.--Its occurrence in the field is a response to extremely
high nitrogen and/or potassium levels where boron supply is
deficient or marginal. Extremely high nitrogen levels alone
produce brown checking without cracked stem. With high
potassium levels, cracked stem may appear with the brown
Symptoms.--This condition is characterized by .dark brown,
soft, watery broken down parenchyma tissue, at times extending
the full length of the petiole, often on several petioles.
Seasonal Occurrence.--Its appearance seems to be confined
mostly to fall grown celery when temperatures and humidity are
high and frequent rains occur. It seems worse after semi-flooded
conditions following extremely heavy rainfall.
Cause.--This is another condition not completely understood.
It may be due to a combination of physiological injury and the
entry of saprophytic rot organisms.
Susceptible Varieties.--Varietal differences are not known.
Preventive.--Control measures have not been worked out
However, the high correlation observed with excess field water
Figure 26. -- Blackheart on a greenhouse-grown celery plant. The cause is calcium
Figure 27. -- Brown checking, found on the concave side of celery petioles. Cause:
nitrogen and/or potassium-boron imbalance.
Figure 28. -- Brown stem in celery.
Figure 29. -- Chloronemic feather leaflets branching off the first node. These leaves
are more numerous on plants showing nodal cracking.
suggests that the best possible means of water control are ad-
visable under these conditions.
Symptoms.--This is a growers term for chloronemia of the
secondary leaflets. The partial or complete loss of chlorophyll
results in whitish leaf tissue, most often found on leaflets
branching at the first node. The chief damage is to the appearance
of the plant. Feather leaf is usually found on overmature plants,
but at times it becomes severe one or two weeks before plants are
mature for harvest.
Seasonal Occurrence.--It becomes most severe from late Febru-
ary to about May 1.
Cause.--The cause is not definitely known. Nutritional treat-
ments have been observed to have little effect in the field. It
appears in greenhouse experiments on plants 18 or 20 days after
boron has been drastically reduced. Plants and varieties showing
cracked stem and nodal cracking have more feather leaves than
Susceptible Varieties.--Varieties known to be susceptible are
Florida 2-13 and Emerald with the highest incidence, followed by
Utah 52-70 and Summer Pascal, with Florida 683 showing the
least feather leaf.
Preventive.--There are no control measures to suggest at present.
Symptoms.--Cracks or breaks in the epidermis often extend
along the entire area of petiole. The epidermis may curl back in
some instances, and in some varieties dark stripes occur along
the vascular bundles.
Seasonal Occurrence.--It may occur any season. Symptoms
may be more pronounced from December to April 15.
Susceptible Varieties.--Most modern green varieties of celery
have considerable resistance, although Utah 52-70 and Emerald
show some plants susceptible to the disorder.
Preventive.--Use 7.2 pounds B203 per acre in the broadcast
fertilizer mix where soil pH is 6.0 and above, 5.4 pounds B203
per acre is sufficient for soil with pH below 6.0.
Figure 30. Cracked stem in celery. Cause: boron deficiency.
Susceptible Varieties.--Utah 10B and 16-11 are most sus-
ceptible; some plants (20-25%) are susceptible in Utah 52-70.
Florida selections of Utah 52-70, Florida 2-13, and Florida 683,
seem uniformly resistant.
Preventive.--Use boron in broadcast fertilizer mixture as sug-
gested for cracked stem. Nitrogen, potassium, and boron
fertilizers should be used at recommended rates.
Figure 31. Longitudinal splitting.
Symptoms.--This injury is called "growth crack" by commercial
growers. It is a longitudinal split in the base of one or more of
the older and outer petioles extending upward, usually from one
to 3 inches.
Seasonal Occurrence.--It occurs in the fall on maturing celery
as temperatures begin to cool perceptibly.
Susceptible Varieties.--Variety differences are riot known.
Cause.--Cause is not definitely known, but the term "growth
crack" may nearly describe the cause. During high temperatures
of the early fall season the short stem or crown of the celery plant
grows longer with a relatively smaller diameter, with only one
heart petiole growing out at one time. As temperatures cool, the
stem begins to expand in diameter, increasing in circumference
rather than longitudinal growth as the heart becomes larger. The
extremely rapid growth taking place during the last few weeks
before maturity and the increasing heart size during the cooler
temperatures may expand the base of the plant, splitting the base
of some of the older and outer ribs.
Preventive.--There seem to be no measures for control. Plant
selection for resistance under these conditions may have possi-
Symptoms.--A horizontal crack usually occurs around the
first node or just under the node on older and outer petioles.
Old cracks turn brown and detract seriously from the appearance
of the plant. Grading standards regulate the amount of crack
permissible on each plant.
Cause.--The cause is not entirely understood. Severity in-
creases with pH levels above 6.0. It is most severe at high
Figure 32. -- Nodal cracking in celery.
potassium levels on high pH soils. There may be other factors
involving mechanical breakage by sprayer booms, wind velocity,
temperature-water-plant relationships, and petiole architecture.
Susceptible Varieties.--Florida 2-13 and Emerald are most sus-
ceptible. Utah 52-70 is more susceptible than Summer Pascal.
Florida 683 is least susceptible.
Seasonal Occurrence.--It is particularly severe in susceptible
varieties during winter and spring harvests to about April 15.
Preventive.--Raising the water table overnight when frosts are
expected may be a questionable practice with susceptible varieties.
Soil boron applications should be made as directed for cracked
Magnesium Deficiency Chlorosis
Symptoms.--Beginning in the 7th or 8th week after trans-
planting, susceptible plants will begin to show yellowing of the
oldest and outermost leaves. Yellowing appears first in the inter-
veinal leaf tissue with the veins still remaining green. Later the
entire leaf may turn brown, and die under severe conditions. It is
usually not noticed until leaves of several petioles are affected.
It is more severe on oldest petioles and less severe on younger
Seasonal Occurrence.--The condition is not as severe on the
organic soils of Florida as on the organic soils of the northern
states. Susceptible plants may show little chlorosis some years,
more others. Plants maturing in late December, January, and
February generally show more of the chlorosis than at other
seasons, although it has been seen in March and April.
Susceptible Varieties.--About 25% of plants in Utah 52-70
show the deficiency, and 3 5% of the plants in Utah 52-70H.
The Florida selections from Utah 52-70, Florida 2-13, and Florida
683 are uniformly resistant.
Cause.--This is an inherited tendency to magnesium deficiency.
Varieties showing only partial susceptibility carry some factors
which, when properly combined, result in the disorder. It occurs
when exchangeable ammonium levels are highest, and in experi-
mental plots is most severe where potassium levels are very high.
Preventive.--This is not a severe problem for this area of Florida.
Utah 52-70 shows only about 14 of its population susceptible,
and the economic value of the use of magnesium sprays for this
variety is highly questionable even under the most severe con-
ditions here. If nitrate nitrogen levels are kept high enough, usually
the chlorosis is much less severe. Magnesium sulfate applications
to the soil are not economically feasible on organic soils.
Pencil Stripe or Rust
Symptoms.--Whether this condition is called pencil stripe or
rust by celery growers seems to depend on the severity of the con-
dition. Both seem to be the result of a reddish to dark brown
pigment which appears on either the inside or the outside of the
heart petioles. The lighter stain seems to be a fresher secretion
which grows darker with longer exposure. Pencil stripe can be
described as a dark longitudinal striping extending for various
distances up the petiole under the epidermis.
A type labeled Externally Induced is usually characterized by
stripes on the outside of the rib and/or a brown discoloration on
the inside of the petiole.
A type labeled Internally Induced shows somewhat similar
symptoms and is usually accompanied by brown checking or
cracked stem on some plants and/or curved petioles indicative of
a boron deficiency that occurred near maturity.
Seasonal Occurrence.--Pencil stripe has been most severe from
late December to late January, especially after a heavy unseason-
able rain. However, it is usually always possible to walk across a
field in any part of the season and find occasional plants with
Susceptible Varieties.--The condition is obviously genetic.
Studies have indicated plants susceptible to external induction are
not necessarily as susceptible to internal induction. Summer
pascals seem to be practically resistant under field conditions:
Utah 52-70 may show pencil stripe in about 35% of its population
under extreme conditions, with Utah 52-70H showing a higher
percentage. Comparable data for the two Florida selections are
not available, but it is believed Florida 2-13 is more susceptible
than Florida 683.
Cause.--There seem to be two separate types of cause. The
type labeled Externally Induced has been found to be caused by
the action of some organic pesticidal chemicals and chelated
nutritional materials applied to the plants as sprays. Tank
mixtures of chemicals involving pesticide and nutritional sprays
have been shown to be particularly effective pencil stripe
The other type, which has been labeled Internally Induced, has
been reproduced in solution cultures under conditions of a
marginal boron supply in the presence of ammonium nitrogen.
These soils are known to contain sizeable amounts of exchangeable
ammonium, and it is believed that much of the pencil stripe that
Figure 33. Internally induced pencil stripe caused by a boron deficiency at maturity.
Figure 34. -- Rust may be a more severe form of externally induced pencil stripe.
Figure 35. -- The fine brown longitudinal lines on the outside of these celery heart
petioles were induced by regular sprays of an organic fungicide mixed with monosodium
Figure 36. -- This is a photograph of the concave side of the same petioles shown in
Figure 35 sprayed with the organic fungicide phosphorus mixture.
occurred following the change-over from the summer pascals to
the Utah types, 1958 60, was of this type.
Preventative.--To control Externally Induced pencil stripe,
avoid mixing agricultural pesticidal chemicals in the same spray
tank as much as possible. Use chemicals as directed and only
when needed. Proper use of soil tests and soil application of
recommended materials eliminate the need for nutritional sprays.
Internally Induced pencil stripe has not been found on pre-
viously cropped soil where 2.2 pounds of boron (7.2 lbs B203)
per acre has been applied to the soil before planting. Use boron
as recommended in the broadcast fertilizer mixture.
Symptoms.--This condition has been described as a break-
down of the parenchyma tissue in the celery petiole. It first
appears at the base of the older and outer petiole as interior white
areas. As it proceeds up the rib, the condition becomes worse
and the whitish areas become hollow. As the oldest ribs become
more severe, the next ribs in age sequence begin to show the
condition. Extremely pithy ribs become soft and "give" to
Figure 37. A cross section of a celery plant exhibiting severe pith development.
Seasonal Occurrence.--There appears no definite correlation
between climate and pith occurrence. Under most conditions,
there is little danger until one or two weeks before optimum
Cause.--In younger plants, factors checking and slowing growth
such as lack of adequate moisture, severe foliar disease incidence,
and water logged soil, which appear under fall growing conditions,
may result in pith development. The most serious incidence,
however, may appear a week or a few days before optimum
maturity where available nitrogen and potassium are limiting.
Susceptible Varieties.--Summer Pascal is more susceptible than
Utah 52-70, which is more susceptible than Florida 683. Florida
2-13 is least pithy of all.
Preventive.-Younger celery kept in a healthy vigorous growing
condition shows little tendency to develop pith. The use of
potassium as indicated by soil tests and use of adequate nitrogen
should control pith up to optimum harvest maturity. Following
maturity, however, celery practically ceases growth for a few
days. Pith develops in spite of former treatments.
Symptoms.--Light green leaf and rib color occur at times in
spite of adequate nitrogen and potassium nutrition, factors known
to affect color.
Seasonal Occurrence.--This condition most frequently occurs
between February 15 and April 15. This is also the season of
maximum growth and yields.
Susceptible Varieties.-Variety comparisons have not been
made, but it occurs on all varieties of green celery used in the
Cause.--Causes are not precisely known. In experimental plots,
green color intensity is reduced at exceptionally high phosphorus
levels. In growers' fields, such conditions always seem to occur
when soil phosphorus levels are exceptionally high.
Preventive.--Use soil tests and keep phosphorus levels within
Prevention is the key word in disease control. Eradication
of a pathogen once it has invaded the plant is always difficult
and usually impossible. Plants may be protected by means of
chemical treatments applied to the soil, seed, or foliage; by remov-
ing the pathogen from the crop area through such methods as
flooding or eradication of weed hosts; and by use of disease-free
seed or disease resistant varieties. The method used depends on
the vulnerability of the causal agent and the expense of the treat-
ment. Summary of diseases are given in Table 2. For up-to-date
information on disease control, consult Commercial Vegetable
Insect and Disease Control Guide, or the Florida Plant Disease
Control Guide, Florida Cooperative Extension Service Circular
Damping-off, Root and Crown Rots.--This disease complex
may be caused by several fungi including species of Pythium,
Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Sclerotinia. All are able to persist
in the soil for long periods of time, either living saprophytically
on soil organic matter or lying dormant as resistant fungal struc-
tures. Young seedlings are most susceptible to damping-off.
However, the problem may occur throughout the time plants are
in the seedbed and even in the field. Root tips of recently
germinated seedlings may turn brown before penetrating the soil,
or a watery rot may develop at the soil surface after root establish-
ment. The plant wilts and dies in either case. When plants are
very small, scattered damping-off sometimes occurs without
serious losses. Commonly, a gradually enlarging circular area
of damping-off develops, leaving bare spots and consequent seed-
ling loss. Total foliar blighting often occurs. Pythium and
Rhizoctonia are the chief causes of damping-off in the Everglades,
although Sclerotinia may sometimes be involved. Seedbed
symptoms of pink rot (Sclerotinia) are typical of damping-off. A
small watery lesion first appears on the stem near the soil line
and soon spreads to encompass the entire stem, causing wilting
and death of the seedling. It spreads from plant to plant in a
circular pattern typical of damping-off. Generally the affected
plant parts develop a delicate pink color which gives the disease its
name, and under conditions of high humidity a white, fuzzy
fungus growth is evident. (See the section on pink rot under
Crown and root rots are the usual problem on older seedbed
plants. Rhizoctonia grows near the soil surface and is the prime
cause of crown rot. It can be identified by a rust-colored lesion
which often completely encircles the plant at or near the soil
surface. A red ring of Rhizoctonia-infected tissue can often be
Table 2. Disease summary chart.
Disease Cause Symptoms
Damping-off Fungi Rhizoctonia A seedling disease. Plants wilt and
Pythium, Sclerotinia die, usually in a circular pattern,
leaving bare spots on the seedbed.
Root rot Fungi Pythium, Reddish brown lesions encircling
Fusarium young rootlets in bands or extending
an inch or so back from the tips.
Pink rot Fungus Sclerotinia Produces damping-off disease in seed-
sclerotiorum bed. Usually distinguished by pinkish
color of affected seedlings. On ma-
turing plants in field, begins as basal
rot and rapidly rots entire plant.
Pinkish color evident, sometimes
fuzzy mold growth.
Basal stalk Fungus Rhizoctonia In seedbed, reddish brown lesions at
crown and rotting off of secondary
roots at soil surface. In field, reddish-
brown sunken lesions on base of
Early blight Fungus Cercospora First appears on leaf blade as small
apii light brown lesions which rapidly en-
large and become dusty gray with
spores, usually % to % inch in diame-
ter. May also cause elongated tan to
gray lesions on petioles.
Late blight Fungus Septoria Produces leaf lesions similar to early
apiicofa blight; can be distinguished by presence
of pinpoint-size black fruiting struc-
tures. May produce petiole lesions
which are relatively small and more
oval than early blight.
Bacterial blight Bacterium Lesions usually small but may merge
Pseudomonas to affect large areas of leaf, reddish-
cichorii brown in color and somewhat trans-
lucent or greasy with angular, sharply
Mosaic Cucumber mosaic If young plants are infected stunting
virus (CMV) may occur. Golden types show
prominent leaf mottle; green types
may show slight mottle to no leaf
symptoms. All types have sunken pits
along the petiole which may have a
slight pinkish color.
Mosaic Western Celery Plants stunted and often appear
mosaic virus wilted. Leaves rolled and twisted as
(WCMV) though sprayed with 2, 4-0. Very
evident mosaic patterns on leaves and
stalks. No petiole pitting as with
found in the crowns of normal appearing plants. Secondary roots
near the soil surface may also be affected, leaving only the rotted
stubs. Roots deeper in the soil are most often attacked by either
Fusarium or Pythium. Both fungi cause similar reddish lesions on
young rootlets. In summer and early fall Fusarium is usually
the problem, while Pythium occurs more often during the cooler
winter months. Unlike damping-off, root and crown rots do not
often result in death of the plants. Serious growth retardation
may result,but plants often recover through the judicious use of
fertilizer and water.
Damping-off of young plants can be controlled by the use of
soil fumigants supplemented with periodic applications of fungi-
cides. Rhizoctonia crown rot can be controlled by spray appli-
cations of various fungicides. It is necessary to get the spray to
the base of the plants. This can be facilitated by topping the
plants, using wetting agents, and applying 12 to 15 gallons of
spray mix per 1200 square feet of seedbed. Preplant soil
fumigation usually controls root rots for 6 to 8 weeks or until the
pathogens become reestablished in the beds. There is no
satisfactory control for late season root rots.
Bacterial Leaf Blight, Early Blight and Late Blight.--These
three diseases are all important foliar problems in seedbeds.
Severely affected plants recover slowly following transplanting
and cause marked yield reductions. An important principle of
disease control is violated when these diseases are established in
the seedbed; that is, the growers must transplant infected rather
than disease-free plants. Thus, the epidemic is well established at
transplant time and only the most conscientious and thorough
control schedule avoids disaster. Transplanting disease-free
plants along with a routine control program often places growers
six to eight weeks into the season before even a minimal amount
of disease develops. The symptoms for these three diseases are
given under field celery.
Pink Rot.--This disease is caused by fungus Sclerotinia
sclerotiorum (Lib.) DBy. It may attack celery at any stage in its
development. The fungus can persist for several years in the soil
as sclerotia, which are easily recognizable in infected tissue as
hard black, irregular shaped bodies, 1/16 to 1/2 inch long.
Sclerotia germinate during cool weather, usually after mean daily
temperatures fall to near 700F or below, and are accompanied by
Figure 38. -- Pink rot in celery is confined mostly to the base of the stalk. Cotton-
like growth of the mycelium is a very distinctive symptom of this malady.
high soil moisture. Small mushroom-like structures sprout from
the sclerotia and produce spores which are spread by wind. Once
spores have been formed, warm humid weather favors disease
buildup. Infection also takes place as a result of mycelial
(threadlike body of the fungus) production by sclerotia which
penetrates old leaves in contact with the soil. The fungus grows
through the petioles into the base of the plant.
Pink rot may appear any time after conditions for sclerotia
germination have been met. Usually though, it occurs after the
tops have closed in enough to create high humidity for long
periods beneath the foliar canopy. Infection takes place through
the older leaves or near the base of the plant and quickly proceeds
to reduce the whole plant to a watery, pinkish, rotten mass. New
sclerotia are produced within and on the plant tissue, and the
stage is set for another year.
Pink rot has been adequately controlled in the Everglades by
flooding. A six week period of either continuous flooding or
alternate flooding and drying is sufficient to rot most of the
sclerotia, thus disposing of the overseasoning stage. Crop rotation
has not been a satisfactory solution because of the longevity of the
sclerotia in the soil and the wide host range of the pathogen.
However, sweet corn is not a host and serves well as an alternate
crop with celery. Chemical control has been difficult.
Rhizoctonia Stalk Rot.--In addition to damping-off and crown
rot caused by Rhizoctonia in seedbeds, this fungus is also a
problem in the field. Celery plants are particularly susceptible
to damage from Rhizoctonia after transplanting. Plants that are
set too deep or otherwise become partially covered by soil
develop rust-colored lesions on the petioles just below the soil
surface. Individual petioles may be killed or the whole plant may
die if new growth is attacked before emergence. Rhizoctonia is
next in evidence as plants approach maturity, especially during
periods of heavy rainfall. The fungus invades the plant near the
soil surface and grows between the petioles, causing sunken lesions
on both the inner and outer surfaces. This results in yield re-
duction because of the excessive stripping necessary to dispose of
Rhizoctonia control on newly transplanted celery is difficult
with spray applications, because the affected parts are usually
below the soil surface. About the only safeguard is to make
certain that the transplants are not set too deeply. Rhizoctonia
stalk rot of older plants can be partially controlled by various
Figure 39. -- Basal stalk rot caused by soil fungi. The brown sunken lesions usually
appear where the stalk touches the ground.
fungicides. Nozzles must be directed toward the base of the
plant and applications made once or twice weekly.
Early Blight.--Early blight caused by Cercospora apii Fres.
is the most destructive disease of celery. It affects both leaf blades
and petioles. On the leaf blade the affected area first appears as a
small, light brown lesion which rapidly enlarges and becomes
dusty-gray with spores. Mature lesions usually are 1/ to 3/4 inch
in diameter, but may be large enough to encompass almost the
entire leaf blade. The size of the lesions depends on plant age,
varietal susceptibility, and weather conditions. Petiole spots
appear as elongated tan lesions which enlarge and become dark
gray as spores are formed.
Weather and age of plants are significant factors in disease
development. The disease is sometimes important in seedbeds
but is usually more destructive in the field, particularly after a
foliage canopy has formed. Conditions for disease development
are usually most favorable during the warm humid months of early
fall and late spring. The fungus is spread by wind-blown spores
that land on a susceptible portion of the plant and germinate
when free moisture is present in the form of rain or dew. The
germ tubes enter the plant through the stomata, where they grow
and spread in the tissues and produce lesions.
Figure 40. -- Early blight lesions on celery leaf blade. The lesions are usually sur-
rounded by chlorotic tissue. This is one of the most serious diseases in celery and is
difficult to control under hot, wet conditions. Healthy leaf on the right.
Fungicide spray treatments applied at intervals of 5 days to
twice weekly provide good control of early blight. Good coverage
is necessary because the fungus is most vulnerable only during the
relatively short time between spore formation and spore germi-
nation and penetration of the host. Once the fungus is inside the
leaf or stalk most fungicides have no effect. For optimum control,
coverage should be complete and frequent enough to have suf-
ficient fungicide particles present in every drop of foliage surface
moisture to kill the germinating spores. The frequency of ap-
plications is governed principally by weather conditions favorable
for disease spread and by the amount of disease already present
in the field.
The use of an early blight resistant celery variety is advisable
especially for crops harvested in middle fall and late spring. Al-
though resistance is not great enough to warrant elimination of the
spray program, heavy rains and high temperatures increase disease
development and at the same time prevent maintenance of a
regular spray program. Under these conditions the use of resistant
varieties may save the crop from severe loss.
Recent research at the Agricultural Research and Education
Center at Belle Glade has shown that sporulation of Cercospora
apii responds dramatically to the temperature and relative
humidity conditions to which the infected leaves are subjected.
This response makes early blight forecasting possible. At least
12 hours of 100% R.H. at temperatures above 600F are necessary
for significant sporulation. Blight-favorable weather is commonly
interspersed with non-favorable periods, making occasional esti-
mation of blight spread difficult. The use of spore traps to sample
air in celery fields provides an accurate means to determine the
actual blight pressure and the spray schedule can be adjusted
accordingly. Thus, savings in fungicide and the maximal disease
control for the prevailing climate conditions can be achieved.
Late Blight.--Late blight is caused by the fungi Septoria apiicola
Speg. and is rarely a problem in the Glades, but when present it
causes severe injury to celery plants. Lesions are produced on
leaves that are similar to early blight lesions but can be easily
distinguished by the presence of black pinpoint-sized fruiting
structures (pycnidia) visible to the naked eye. Late blight also
attacks the petioles, but the lesions are smaller and more oval
than those of early blight and like the leaf lesions are speckled
with the black fruiting structures. It is most likely to be present
in the cool time of the year during rainy periods, as opposed to
Figure 41.-- Late blight is recognized by black bodies (pycnidia) growing inside the
lesions. It is seldom of economic importance, but it devastates the crop in a short time
when it appears. Healthy leaf on the left.
early blight, which is favored by warm weather. Infected seed is
the main source of inoculum.
Bacterial Blight.--Bacterial blight, caused by Pseudomonas
cichorii (Swingle) Stapp, may occur on celery at almost any stage
in its development. In the seedbeds it usually appears after the
covers have been removed. It is spread by driving rain or by farm
equipment brushing against the wet foliage. Topping the seedling
plants when they are wet is a very efficient blight inoculation
method. Bacterial blight development is favored by warm, wet
weather; it is a problem in the summer, early fall, and late spring
months. It is seldom found during the cool, dry months of
December through April. Young leaves are most commonly
attacked, and the infection often spreads from the blade to the
petiole. Mines produced by the celery leaf miner are often initial
centers of infection.
Bacterial blight is difficult to distinguish from young early
blight lesions. Characteristically, the bacterial blight spots are
smaller, more angular, have a deeper red color, and are somewhat
translucent and greasy in appearance. The most reliable differen-
tiating character is the border of the lesion. The borders of young
early blight lesions fade gradually from necrotic to healthy tissue,
Figure 42. -- Bacterial blight in celery leaf is often recognized by the angular and well-
delineated shape of the lesions. This disease is common during the hot, wet months of
while those of bacterial blight are sharply delineated. However,
no single characteristic can be relied upon to distinguish all
bacterial blight lesions from all early blight lesions; only isolation
and culture of the pathogen will give sure identification.
Careful attention to cultural methods can help reduce the
incidence of bacterial blight. Foliar applications of nitrogen
increase severity of the disease. Spread of bacterial blight can be
reduced by avoiding movement of workers or machinery through
the field while the foliage is wet and by working healthy portions
of plantings before diseased portions.
Mosaic.--Two distinct viruses cause mosaic of celery in Florida.
Cucumber mosaic virus has been recognized as a serious problem
for many years, but in 1966 western celery mosaic virus was also
found in both southern and central Florida. The two viruses are
distinguished by the symptoms they induce on celery and the
range of hosts they infect.
The appearance of plants infected with cucumber mosaic
varies with the variety and type of celery grown. Golden
types show brightly mottled leaves and stunted growth. Leaves
sometimes have oak-leaf and ring-like patterns or are covered with
small reddish spots. The green types of celery also have bronzed
foliage symptoms or none at all. All of the varieties display
sunken pits, often of a brownish color, along the petioles.
Figure 43. -- Systemic symptoms of cucumber mosaic virus in older leaves results in
yellowish oak leaf patterns and chlorotic spots on the leaf blade.
Figure 44. -- Water-soaked and sunken streaks appear on petioles as the cucumber
mosaic virus infection progresses.
Figure 45. -- Celery naturally infected with western celery mosaic virus showing twist-
ing, cupping, and narrowing of leaflets.
Celery plants infected with western celery mosaic are usually
markedly stunted. A prominent mosaic pattern may be evident
on the leaflets, with dark green bands along the veins. The infected
foliage has a distinct shiny appearance. The leaflets are distorted,
narrower than normal, and have raised areas on their upper surfaces
resembling plants affected by 2, 4-D. Mottling in the form of
light patches against a darker background is often seen on affected
petioles, but no pitting or necrosis occurs. Both viruses may occur
together in the same plant.
Both western celery mosaic virus and cucumber mosaic virus
are stylet-borne, aphid-transmitted viruses. Western celery mosaic
virus appears to be limited to species of Umbelliferae, or celery
family, whereas the cucumber mosaic virus has a large host range
including many weeds and ornamentals. An important weed host
of cucumber mosaic virus is dayflower (Commelina sp.).
The most effective control for cucumber mosaic is eradica-
tion of dayflower and other hosts for a distance of several hundred
feet from the celery growing area before seeding. Merely
destroying the top growth is not enough, because the virus is
present in the roots and regrowth will be infected. Control can
be improved by planting a barrier crop immune to the virus, such
as sunflower, around the field and spraying this barrier crop with
an insecticide. The barrier offers a place for the aphids to stop
and lose the virus during their feeding probes before entering the
celery fields. An insecticide sprayed on the barrier weekly kills
many of the aphids before they arrive on the celery. Aphid
control is the only suggested means presently available to
reduce losses from western celery mosaic virus. The variety
June-Belle used in late spring crops may be tolerant to western
celery mosaic virus.
An effective weed control program essential to efficient, eco-
nomical production of quality celery can be divided into three
phases: A, sanitation; B, seedbed; and C, field production. Im-
portant annual weed infestants are listed in Table 3.
Table 3. Important annual weeds in celery.
Common Name Botanical Name Seedbed Field
Annual Grass Weeds
Crabgrass1 Digitaria spp. x x
Goosegrass1 Eleusine indica x x
Annual Broadleaf Weeds
Carelessweed Acnida cannabina x
Spiny amaranth1 Amaranthus spinosus x x
Ragweed Ambrosia spp, x
Lambsquarters Chenopodium spp. x x
None Eclipta alba x
Dogfennel Eupatorium spp. x
Bedstraw Galium spp. x
Cudweed Gnaphalium spp. x
Pellitoryweed Parietaria floridana x
Mockbishopweed1 Ptilimnium capillaceum x
Purslanel Portulaca oleraceae x x
Yellow cress1 Rorippa spp. x
Annual sedge Cyperus spp. x x
Purple nutsedge Cyperus rbtundus x x
1 Indicates the most troublesome. weeds. Other species may be locally important.
Volunteer crop plants, like Sesbania, can be troublesome weed infestants in
Weed sanitation programs are restricted largely to ditchbanks
and areas around seedbed and production fields to help control
weeds and other pests of celery. Weeds and volunteer crop plants
which may serve as hosts for diseases, insects, nematodes, and
viruses that attack celery must be eliminated. Seed, plants, and
vegetative organs of potential hosts should not be transported into
cropped areas. Cultural (flooding, cover cropping) and mechanical
(plowing, disking, rotary tillage) methods may be useful in in-
dividual locations and farm operations. Sesbania and other cover
crops should be selected and managed with care and should be
destroyed before they mature seed which could interfere with
celery production. Chemical sanitation programs are most ap-
plicable to non-crop periods when chlorophenoxy herbicides (such
as 2, 4-D) can be used readily; but other herbicides are useful
during the crop season if managed properly. Soil sterilant and pre-
emergence herbicides are likely to be more expensive and less
useful than post-emergence chemicals or combinations selected
for particular problems.
Off-season land flooding usually practiced for the control of
nematodes and soil-borne diseases may provide some control of
annual weeds. Thorough mechanical land preparation is a valuable
aid in reducing annual weed populations and can be continued as
rotary seedbed tillage after the beds are formed but before they
are seeded. Some seedbed fumigants used for control of soil
insects, diseases, and nematodes kill weed seed and vegetative
propagules, such as nutsedge tubers.
The performance of preemergence herbicides applied after
seeding is related to the seeding method and is erratic; some
herbicides useful in the transplanted crop can kill or severely
injure celery seed and seedlings.
Flooding for control of nematodes and soil-borne diseases
may control some annual weeds. Thorough mechanical tillage
during land preparation aids materially in lowering annual weed
infestations. Inter-row rotary tillage is effective in controlling
weeds, but accurate equipment operation is necessary to avoid
damage to plants and their superficial roots. Tillage within the
crop row is difficult and incomplete.
k'.'... 0 .. ' 'P
f, _-.'.' ,.
Figure 46.-- Prometryne applied overall eliminated annual weeds in foreground of
seedbed without damage to celery seedlings or subsequent field yield. Untreated plot in
Chemical Weed Control Programs
Preemergence to Weeds.--The abundant soil moisture associated
with plant setting operations insures success with preemergence
chemicals, but they may be leached by excessive rainfall. Ap-
"plication after the transplanting irrigation is preferred to minimize
leaching. Effective weed control should persist until the first
fertilizer side dressing, which is incorporated with rotary tillage
tools. A second may be made using granular formulations
broadcast overall or using sprays with equipment adjusted to
minimize wetting of celery foliage. Usually these two applications
will provide crop-long weed control. The higher dosage rates may
will provide crop-long weed control. The higher dosage rates may
be preferable for fall and late-winter or spring-set celery, while the
rates may be lowered by as much as one-third for late-fall and
Postemergence to Weeds. --Postemergence herbicides are most
useful when climatic conditions have prevented application of
preemergence herbicides at transplanting; when heavy rainfall
has leached or lowered the effectiveness of preemergence chem-
icals; or for weed species which escaped control by the transplant-
ing treatment. Application should be as directed sprays to wet
foliage thoroughly but to avoid wetting the crop. Most effective
control is obtained when applications are made to small weed
seedlings rather than to established weeds.
Specific pre- and postemergence treatments and dosage rates
are published in the current Florida Cooperative Extension
Service Circular 196.
Equipment and Method of Herbicide Application
Equipment for herbicide application is distinct from that
used to apply other pesticides. Low pressure (25 to 40 psi)
Figure 47. -- Weed control in celery with a posttransplanting application of CDAA
plus CDEC, on left. Unsprayed control plot on right.
Figure 48.- Commercial posttransplanting application of CDAA plus CDEC as soon
as possible after transplanting irrigation. Abundant soil moisture enhances weed control.
and low volume (20 to 40 gpa) sprays with flat-fan herbicide
nozzles adjusted to apply coarse droplets characterize good
Celery seedbed herbicides must be applied as broadcast over-
all sprays which wet weeds and celery seedlings indiscriminately.
Application of herbicides to celery at transplanting may be made
over the entire crop field or may be made in bands to the crop
drill only. Herbicides used subsequently should be applied with
directional equipment, which minimizes spray contact with celery
Nematodes are important celery pests both in the seedbed and
in the field. The root-knot nematode (Meloidognyne sp.) is the
most likely to cause economic damage to celery in the organic
soils of the Everglades: however, ring (Criconemoides sp), spiral
(Helicotylenchus sp.) stunt (Tylenchorhynchus sp.), and stubby-
root (Trichodorus sp.) nematodes are often found associated with
celery, but are usually in numbers too small to cause serious
damage. Celery transplants free of root-knot nematode may
produce 25% to 100% larger stalks than root-knot infected trans-
plants, even when transplanted to root-knot infected fields.
Figure 49. -- Root-knot nematode infected plants with healthy plant above. All
plants of same age in same commercial field.
The accepted practices of flooding and fumigating in the
seedbeds and flooding in the fields keep nematode populations
below levels of economic importance. Problems with root-knot
nematode usually develop following improper flooding and/or
fumigation. Several methods of nematode control are available to
the grower. Their adaptability will depend upon the kind of
nematodes present and the availability of land. For up-to-date
information consult the Florida Nematode Control Guide.
Celery seedbed areas are usually flooded and then treated with
chemical nematocides. The rotation of celery and Pangola digit-
grass provides good root-knot nematode control.
Flooding.--The land should be well prepared, and roots allowed
to decompose before the flooding program starts, so that the
nematodes will not be protected by the root tissue. Flooding for
four weeks, followed by two weeks of drying and flooding again
for four weeks, reduces nematode populations satisfactorily as
well as soil-borne insects, diseases, and annual weeds. Greenhouse
tests demonstrated that an alternate flooding drying program is
much more effective than a constant flooding program. Eight
weeks flooding was no more effective than the alternate flooding
program. (two weeks flood two weeks dry two weeks flood)
which lasted six weeks. Flooding periods of less than eight weeks
were even less effective. Success of this program depends upon
the soil being well aerated during the two weeks of drying.
Rotation.--A Pangola digitgrass rotation program developed for
root-knot control on sandy soil has been equally effective in muck
soil. The effectiveness of this program apparently depends upon
two factors. Young roots of Pangola digitgrass cause root-knot
larvae to emerge from their eggs, and the older roots produce a
material that is toxic to the nematode. In the absence of a host
plant these larvae are killed. Good weed control is essential to
the success of this program, for the larvae may enter and
reproduce in the roots of weed plants. Soil samples should be
examined before and after this rotation program. If root-knot
nematodes are the only nematodes present, this program should
give good control in one year. If stubby root nematodes are
present, they may live on the Pangola digitgrass and be a severe
problem after the rotation.
Sanitation.--Keeping seedbeds, fields and surrounding areas
free of weeds will help in maintaining low nematode populations.
Many nematodes have wide host ranges that include many weed
species. The root-knot nematodes are known to feed and re-
produce on such common weeds as purslane, nutsedge, yellow-
cress, redroot pigweed, dayflower, bermudagrass, and goosegrass.
Nematocides.--A number of chemical nematocides are available
for celery seedbeds. All have the added advantage of giving some
Figure 50. -- Flooding large areas of land for the control of soil-borne parasites. Four
weeks of flooding with two weeks of drying and again four weeks of flooding gave
satisfactory control of nematodes, some soil fungi, and soil insects.
control of weeds and soil-borne diseases. These must be applied
carefully, and the following steps should be taken for optimum
1. Prepare the seedbed area far enough in advance so that no
undecomposed crop residues are present. 2. Have soil moist
enough for seeding. 3. Apply nematocides accurately to a
depth of 6 8 inches using a shank fumigator with shanks set 8 to
12 inches apart. 4. Immediately after applying the nematocides
drag and sprinkle the treated area to seal it in. A plastic film must
be put over the treated area and sealed immediately for some
nematocides to prevent the escape of the gasses; others should be
released under the plastic film. In this case remove the film after
48 hours and wait 14 to 21 days before planting. In warm dry
weather the shorter period is adequate, while cool wet weather
will necessitate a longer waiting period. 5. Do not permit
untreated soil to be placed on the treated beds.
The most widely accepted method of control in celery fields is
flooding. Pangola digitgrass rotation is also effective. The
programs for flooding and rotation are the same as indicated for
seedbeds. The cost of some chemical nematocides may be
prohibitive for field treatments; however, some of them are
relatively inexpensive and have significantly increased celery
yields where nematodes were known to be a problem.
For best results these guides should be followed; 1. The soil
to be treated should be well prepared and all plant remains
thoroughly decomposed; 2. Soil moisture should be good enough
for transplanting; 3. The chisels should be placed 8 to 10 inches
apart and 6 to 8 inches deep; 4. The fumigant applicator rig
should be accurately calibrated; 5. Immediately after application
the soil should be compacted to prevent escape of the ne-
matocides; and 6. Wait 1 to 3 weeks before transplanting.
Sanitation measures effectively reduce insect infestations.
Immediately after removing transplants from the seedbed or
harvesting celery from the field, plow under all plant debris.
Control weeds in the seedbed, in the field, and along the ditch-
Celery in fields that were not recently used to grow grass
crops such as corn, sugarcane, sorghum, or pasture will have less
trouble from insects such as wireworms and mole crickets. Wire-
worm, mole cricket, and cutworm damage will be less likely in
fields that have been frequently cultivated and kept weed-free.
Thorough soil preparation at least two weeks before planting
results in fewer insect problems.
Flooding and broadcast chemical treatments for nematode
control result in less wireworm damage.
Weather has a big effect on celery insects and mites and their
control. In cool dry weather, expect trouble from aphids in
warm dry weather, mites. Caterpillar damage is more likely during
For up-to-date information consult Commercial Vegetable
Insect and Disease Control Guide, Florida Cooperative Extension
Service Circular 193 or the Florida Insect Control Guide Series.
Preplanting.--If good cultural practices have been followed,
wireworms seldom will be important in the seedbed. A proper
nematode control procedure, with the exception of Pangola
digitgrass rotation, should reduce wireworm populations.
Post-emergence.--Mole crickets, cutworms, serpentine leafminer
and the garden fleahopper can cause damage to celery. Routine
sprays applied for serpentine leafminer control will suppress
other insect pests of the celery seedbed. Spray seedbeds about
once every two weeks. If adequate control is not obtained,
spray weekly, or even twice weekly if weekly applications are
not effective. If other insects cause damage, use one of the
procedures listed under the specific insect.
Pretransplanting Treatments.--Soil insects are usually not much
of a problem on celery if the previous crop was not corn, sorghum,
or some other grass and if the field has been kept weed-free from
the previous spring until transplanting. Flooding for nematode
control should be effective against wireworms especially if the
flooding period extends into September. Most chemical treat-
ments for nematode control reduce wireworm populations if
applied broadcast. However, the band treatments offer little, if
Treatments After Transplanting.--Usually, insecticide sprays
necessary to control serpentine leafminers also suppress other
insect pests. Spray transplants twice weekly until they are well
established. Then, if the leafminer infestation is light, spray
weekly. If adequate control is not obtained, sprays should be
applied twice weekly. Arrange spray nozzles to cover the entire
plant, including the undersides of the leaves. When plants are
small, apply about 75 gallons of spray per acre. As they grow
larger, 150 to 225 gallons per acre should be applied.
If insects other than leafminers become important, use control
measures listed for that specific pest but do not discontinue the
serpentine leafminer control program.
Insects That Frequently Damage Celery
In general, the insect species that attack celery in the seedbed
are the same as those in the field.
Wireworms.--Two wireworm species are important pests of
celery in the Everglades. They are the southern potato wireworm,
Conoderus falli (Lane), and the corn wireworm, Melanotus -
communis (Gyllenhal). These insects tunnel into the underground
parts of celery. Wireworm adults, click beetles, tend to lay
eggs in grassy areas. Therefore, fields that have not been grassy or
planted to a grass crop such as corn will likely contain few wire-
worms. Wireworms seem to prefer grasses and attack celery only
when a more preferable crop is not present.
Mole crickets.--These insects are usually more important in
the seedbed than in the field but can damage celery plants in
either location. Although they feed upon plant roots, they
are brownish to grayish insects whose front legs are equipped
to dig like a mole's. Their presence is often indicated by
raised tunnels running across the soil surface.
Cutworms.--The black cutworm, Agrotis ypsilon (Hufnagel),
and the granulate cutworm, Feltia Subterranea (F.), stay in the
soil during the day and come up at night to cut off young plants
near the soil surface. They may occur either in the seedbed or in
Other Caterpillars.--Caterpillars are usually a minor problem on
celery except during warmer periods. They chew large areas from
the leaves and also large cavities near the bottom of the stalks.
The caterpillars that most frequently damage celery are the green
celery worm, Platysenta sutor (Guen.), the fall armyworm, Spod-
optera frugiperda (J. E. Smith), the celery leaf-tier, Oeobia
rubigalis (Guen.), the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigna (Hub-
Figure 51. Cutworm damage to celery petiole. Losses due to this insect occur
mostly during warm weather, particularly in late spring.
ner), a tortricid, Tortrix ivana (Fernald), the cabbage looper,
Trichoplusia ni (Hubner), and the soybean looper, Pseudoplusia
includes (Walker). Sprays that are applied regularly for leafminer
control usually control the caterpillars that attack celery.
Serpentine Leafminers.--In recent years a serpentine leafminer,
Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess), has been the most predominant
insect pest of celery in the Everglades. The adult, a very small
yellow and black fly about 1/20 inch long, makes very small
Figure 52. -- Beet armyworm and damage to celery leaves. Heavy infestation
usually occurs during late spring and early fall.
Figure 53. Leaf-miner damage to celery leaves. When the attack is severe, the
tunnels can cover the entire leaf, reducing drastically the growth rate of the plant.
punctures in the leaf while feeding. She lays tiny eggs in some of
these punctures. Small maggots hatch from these eggs and tunnel
within the leaf, leaving both the upper and lower epidermis intact.
Aphids.--In recent years, the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae
(Sulz.), has been the most important aphid pest of celery. The
melon aphid, Aphis gossypii (Glover), is an infrequent pest on
celery. Aphids suck plant juices, mostly from the underside of
celery leaves, and cause younger leaves to curl downward. They
also transmit virus diseases, and their control is therefore extremely
important. In most seasons, the regularly applied sprays for
serpentine leafminers will control aphids. Aphids are more likely
to occur and are also more difficult to control in cold weather.
Insects That Damage Celery Only Occasionally
Garden Fleahopper.--The garden fleahopper, Halticus
bracteatus (Say), can be an important celery pest in the seedbed;
however, it has not been noticed as a celery pest in the Everglades
for several years. It is a small black plant bug with small white
spots on the wings. The adult females may be either short-winged
or long-winged. Small grayish white spots appear where garden
fleahoppers have punctured the leaf to suck juices. If these in-
sects are abundant, leaves may die.
Flea Beetles.--These small oval insects have enlarged hind legs
adapted for making quick jumps when they are disturbed.
From small clusters of orange-colored eggs laid at the base of the
plant or in nearby soil, small grubs hatch to eat small round holes
through the leaf from the underside. The adults also feed on the
young leaves, causing damage similar to that of the grubs. These
insects only occasionally damage plants in the seedbed.
Red Spider Mites.--These are not insects, but mites, Tetrany-
chus tumidus (Banks). They are purplish red, pear-shaped, and
eight-legged. Red spider mites have not been recently observed
on celery in the Everglades. Mites are more likely to occur as
pests during dry periods. They feed on the underside of the leaf,
causing small grayish spots. The adults spin a web, and with severe
infestations plants turn brown and are covered with this fine web.
Celery that has a pesticide residue greater than the tolerance
established under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
cannot be shipped across state lines or sold within the State of
Florida. The grower must see that his produce does not contain
any pesticide residue which exceeds the acceptable tolerance.
To do this, he must use only those pesticides approved for use
on celery at the prescribed times and in the prescribed amounts.
The minimum number of days that must elapse between last
application and harvest and other limitations upon the use of
specific pesticides should be carefully followed.
Before using any pesticide the grower should read the entire
label to be certain that the pesticide is labelled for that use. This
is the most important consideration. He should also make certain
that pesticides that are not approved for use on celery do not drift
onto celery when spraying other crops. Conversely, pesticides
applied to celery should not drift to crops for which they are not
labelled. The grower should arrange his plantings so that celery is
not planted near crops that are likely to be sprayed with chemicals
that are not also approved for use on celery.
Since pesticide tolerances and recommendations may change
from time to time, for up-to-date information consult the
Florida Nematode Control Guide, or latest in the Alphabetical
Series of the Commercial Vegetable Insect and Disease Control
Guide, Circular 193G, and Chemical Weed Control for Vegetable
Crops, Circular 196C, Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES
Pesticides must be applied correctly. The spray program should
be well planned and closely supervised. Several factors discussed
below are important in obtaining effective pest control on celery.
The pest must be correctly identified. If the grower is unable to
identify a pest or disease, he should contact the County Extension
The Right Pesticide in the Right Amount
The grower should use the right pesticide at the correct rate.
He should see that the correct amount of pesticide is accurately
measured for the amount of water in the spray tank. Pesticide
powders should be weighed and not measured by volume (for
example, by the bucketful). When practical, it is best to obtain
pesticides in relatively small packages so that the entire contents
of one or more packages can be added to the spray tank at each
Quality of Pesticide Formulations
The grower should be sure to obtain high quality pesticide
formulations. Formulations should become well dispersed in the
spray tank with only mild agitation, and they should not settle
out rapidly in the absence of agitation. Solid formulations such
as wettable powders and dusts should be finely ground with no
grit or lumps present, and they should be uniform in color and
Gallonage and Coverage
Sprays should be applied to the entire plant and to both
the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. In the seedbed, sprays
are applied through overhead nozzles at about 15 gallons to 1200
square feet. In the field, sprays should be applied at approximately
75 gallons per acre when the plants are young. First one and
then a second nozzle should be added to each side of the row to
apply approximately 150 to 225 gallons per acre, respectively, as
the plants grow larger.
The spraying pressure need only be great enough to get a
good spray pattern from the nozzles. The spray should come from
Figure 54. -- Celery sprayer, 1000 gallon capacity, will cover approximately 60 acres
daily with one operator. The heavy fog is caused by pressure exceeding the 200 psi
recommended for insect and disease control.
the nozzle as droplets; there should be no fog. The spraying
pressure should not exceed 200 psi. Excessive pressure breaks the
spray up into droplets that are so small that they lack the velocity
to penetrate the static layer of air that surrounds the leaf and
stem; it results in undesirable drift and causes undue wear on
the spraying equipment. The grower should not try to increase
the number of gallons applied by increasing spraying pressure.
Gallonage can be more effectively, and, in the long run, more
economically increased by slowing the rate of travel through the
field, or by using larger nozzles or more nozzles.
Speed and Boom Bounce
The sprayer speed should not be greater than 5 mph. Also,
the spray alleys should be kept as smooth as possible. Even a
small rise, dip or turn of the sprayer wheel can cause a tremendous
movement at the end of the boom. This boom bounce is more
pronounced and lasts longer at higher speeds with longer booms.
The grower should not overplant to the extent that he lacks
the time and equipment to control celery pests properly.
Since about 1970, the use of aerially applied pesticides on
celery has increased. Aerial application has the obvious advantages
of being faster, capacity to work in wet fields, permits more
precise timing and reduces the mechanical spread of pests.
However, under heavy disease pressure, aerial control is less
effective than ground applied control. An aerial application
manual should be consulted for information on nozzle selection
and arrangement, spray volume, droplet size, swath width, and
other application procedures.
HARVESTING AND MARKETING
Stalk size, heart development, and price are important factors
in determining when to harvest. Celery is harvested when the
petioles to the first node are at least 6 inches long and have good
width and thickness in relation to their length. The plants must
be reasonably compact and not have excessive open space in the
center of the stalk. Celery should be harvested before the start of
deterioration when petioles become pithy, hard, and fibrous.
The systems used for harvesting and packing celery in the
A. Field packing
1. Hand cutting and packing with mobile mule trains
2. Machine cutting and packing with mobile mule trains
3. Machine cutting and packing with stationary mule trains
B. Packinghouse packing
1. Machine cutting
Stalks are cut off below the surface of the soil by hand or
machine. Hand-cut celery is prepared for market in self-propelled
Figure 55. -- Harvesting by hand and packing on mobile mule train. Celery is cut,
trimmed, washed, graded, packed, and loaded on truck.
Figure 56. -- Self-propelled 10-row mechanical celery harvester operating ahead of
mobile mule train used for grading and packing.
packing houses (mule trains). Each stalk is stripped of small,
outer leaves and defective or damaged petioles before the stalk is
placed on a conveyor belt of the mule train.
Self-propelled 10 or 12 row mechanical celery harvesters
operate just ahead of a mule train. These harvesters cut the stalks
and elevate them to a conveyor belt for stripping, thus eliminating
the stoop labor of hand cutting. After the stalks are topped to a
uniform length (usually about 14/2 inches) with a circular saw,
they are conveyed to the mule train.
One and two row harvesters cut the stalks from the roots, cut
off the tops, and elevate the stalks to trucks or trailers that travel
beside the harvester at the same speed. The bulk loads of machine-
harvested celery are transported to a stationary mule train
or packing house. When a stationary mule train is used to pack
machine-harvested celery, the output is increased by a stripping
unit where workers prepare the stalks for packing. Both the
stripping and packing units are mounted on wheels for moving
to different harvesting locations.
The outer petioles and leaves removed from celery during
stripping range from 35 to 45% of the total stalk weight after
cutting. When stalks are stripped as they are cut by hand or
machine for a mobile mule train, the trimmings fall to the ground
where the stalks were growing. When stalks are stripped at mule
trains operating at one location in a field for a few days, me-
chanical equipment is used to move the trimmings a short
distance from the mule train. When stalks are stripped in a
Figure 57. -- Two-row mechanical celery harvester that cuts, tops, and loads stalks in
trailers for transport to a packing house.
packing house, hauling the trimmings from the area is a much
bigger operation than with the other harvesting systems.
United States Standards for celery provide for three grades:
U. S. Extra No. 1, U. S. No. 1, and U. S. No. 2. Factors con-
sidered in grading are: petiole and stalk length, color, stalk de-
velopment, shape, compactness, trimming, pithiness, seed stem,
growth cracks, wilting, cleanness, blackheart, number of stalks
per container, mechanical damage, and damage caused by diseases
and insects. Florida celery is usually graded according to the
U. S. No. 1 standard, which requires an average outer petiole
length of not less than 6 inches.
Celery sizes are specified in terms of dozens and half-dozens
of stalks that are packed in a standard wirebound crate. When
celery is packed in other containers, the same size terminology of
11/2 to 8 dozen stalks is used. There are no specific stalk dimen-
sions for the various size classifications, and stalk lengths are
uniform as a result of trimming. Since stalk sizes are determined
by a packer's estimate of the diameter, considerable variation in
sizing occurs. There is a good correlation between stalk diameter
and weight, and a weight sizer has recently been adapted for
machine sizing celery. This should assist in meeting the demands
of buyers for more uniformity of sizing and numerical count per
Errors in number of stalks per container are associated with
sizing. Packing is based on number of layers and available space,
and the packers do not mentally count the stalks placed in a
container. The U. S. grade standards permit a variation of 1 stalk
when the specified number per container is 24 stalks or less,
and a variation of 4 stalks in containers of 51 to 70 stalks.
Harvesting and packing celery with a mobile mule train must
be closely coordinated. Conveyors provide a continuous flow of
stalks from the machine or hand cutters, past the mechanical
toppers, through a washer, and past the grading and packing
stations. Packers, assigned to pack only one size, select and per-
form final stripping, and pack similar sizes of stalks into a
shipping container. Packers are responsible for grading, sizing,
and packing the correct number of stalks.
Figure 58. -- Celery stalk sizes ranging from 1% to 6 dozen stalks per crate.
Celery is packed in crates or cartons with the butts and tops
reversed in alternate layers. The number of layers packed in a
wirebound crate varies from 4 to 8, and the number of stalks
per layer varies from 4 to 12 for the various stalk sizes (Table 4).
The orientation of the tops and butts toward the front or back
of the crate also varies with stalk size for all layers except the top.
In the Everglades it has been the custom to pack the top layer
with the butts to the front and the tops to the back of the crate.
Table 4.--Celery stalk sizes, packing arrangements and orientation in wirebound
Stalks per Layer Orientation of Stalk Tops
Size Layers Bottom Top Bottom Top
12 4 4 5 Front Back
2 4 6 6 Front Back
2% 5 6 6 Back Back
3 5 7 7 Back Back
4 6 8 8 Front Back
6 7 11 11 Back Back
8 8 12 12 Front Back
A newly developed system includes mechanical cutting of
stalks in the field, machine topping, bulk hauling in trailers to
a packinghouse, hand stripping, automatic weight sizing from
scales on overhead conveyors, hand packing in crates and cartons,
and automatic closing of the wirebound crates and fiberboard
cartons. The automatic crate closer operates better with less stalk
bruising when the stalk butts in the top layer are oriented
toward the back of the crate instead of toward the front of the
The machine- sized stalks are delivered to packers on sepa-
rate conveyor belts. Packers do not estimate sizes, nor search
for the size they are packing. Weight sizing of stalks results in a
pack more uniform in weight and appearance by eliminating the
overlap between sizes. When all sizes of stalks are mixed on a
packing belt and more than one packer is supposed to be packing
the same size, weight variations among packed crates result from
the tendency of the first packers to select the largest stalks.
Figure 59. -- Wirebound crate of celery showing reversed alternate layers of stalks.
Containers and Closing Methods
The appearance of a packed container of celery including the
excellence of arranging the stalks, the fullness, neatness, and
absence of breakage, is important to the celery buyer. Wirebound
(Howard) crates measuring approximately 11 x 141/2 x 193 inches
are used for 11/ to 8 dozen stalks. Fiberboard cartons, 11 x 141/2 x
20 inches, with a capacity similar to that of a Howard crate are
also used for all stalk sizes. Obviously, the larger the stalks, the
smaller the number per container.
Figure 60. -- Celery packed in wirebound crate and fiberboard carton.
Paper or plastic film liners in wirebound crates aid in protecting
the celery from mechanical injury. Machines are available that
automatically assemble the crates and fasten the liners in
position. The general practice of overpacking wirebound crates
of celery and closing the lid over a bulge pack often results in
improper closures, crate breakage, or bruised celery. Although the
estimated billing weight for crated celery is 60 pounds, packed
crate weights range from 55 to 75 pounds.
When crates are closed by hand, a rocker tool is used to pound
the ends of the crate into position and to tighten and fasten
the four wire loops. Many mule train harvesters have recently
been equipped with semi-automatic, hydraulic, closing machines.
These machines assist in forcing the ends and lid of the crate
into position, draw the cleats together, and tightly bend the wire
loops. Machines are also used for automatically closing and glue
sealing fiberboard cartons.
A large amount of celery is packaged in consumer units in
Everglades packinghouses. This celery, called hearts, usually con-
sists of the 4 dozen, 6 dozen or smaller sizes, that have been
stripped of suckers, leaves, and damaged petioles, and then
packaged in cellophane or polyethylene bags. Some stalks larger
than the 4 dozen size are also packaged in film bags. Stalks are
thoroughly washed, cut to uniform lengths of 8 to 10 inches, and
usually packaged with two or three "hearts" per bag. Fiber-
board cartons and wirebound crates are packed with 12 to 24
packages of hearts for shipments that often include containers of
full size stalks in the same load.
The importance of precooling celery soon after harvest has
long been recognized for maintaining freshness during marketing.
Most crate-packed celery is hydrocooled, and most prepackaged
celery is vacuum cooled. For hydrocooling, crates of celery
are placed on a conveyor that travels beneath a shower of 320 -
350F water with the crates partly immersed in cold water. After
hydrocooling for 15 to 30 minutes, temperatures of the celery
butts range from 400 to 500. Some celery has recently been
hydrocooled in stacks of crates moved by forklift trucks into a
precooling room, where they remain stationary while cold water
is showered over them from overhead nozzles.
Rapid removal of field heat from celery depends not only
upon maintaining the water temperature near 320 and an
adequate time for precooling, but also upon the volume and rate
of flow of cold water over and around the stalks. When single
Figure 61. -- Placing small celery stalks (hearts) into plastic bags.
Figure 62. Precooling: Crates of celery are conveyed through mechanically
. .. ..
Figure 63. -- Precooling: Crates of celery in stacks are showered with cold water
from overhead nozzles.
crates travel beneath a shower, the crate slats and crate liners
reduce the celery cooling rate by shielding portions of the stalks
from the cold shower. When stacks of crates are showered, celery
in lower layers cools more slowly than celery in upper layers.
Prepackaged celery hearts are packed in shipping containers
and then vacuum cooled to about 450F during 30 minutes in a
vacuum tube. The type of packaging does not affect the celery
cooling rate by vacuum provided the packages are not sealed.
Vacuum cooling depends upon evaporation of water, and celery
loses approximately 2% moisture during precooling. If celery
has water on the surface before vacuum cooling, the stalks
generally do not show wilting due to precooling moisture loss.
Since the desired temperature for shipping celery is 320F,
refrigerated truck and rail car loads should have adequate top ice
to continue reduction of stalk temperatures during transit. Melting
ice also keeps stalks and leaves more turgid.
Celery quality criteria important to consumers consist of
crispness, greenness, good taste and freedom from decay, physio-
logical disorders, and mechanical injuries. Good quality celery is
crisp, with the petioles brittle enough to snap easily. Pithy, woody
or stringy celery is undesirable. Celery contains approximately
95% water and loses moisture rapidly unless held at exceptionally
high relative humidity. Celery stored in unlined crates becomes
wilted and tough, but polyethylene crate liners retard the loss of
stalk moisture. Celery is often sprinkled with water to maintain
crispness. The principal benefit from prepackaging celery in bags
is reduction in moisture loss and wilting. Consumer packages
should be ventilated with at least two /4 inch holes to prevent
When not adequately refrigerated, celery is subject to watery
soft rot and other market diseases. Celery retains freedom from
decay and greenness of leaves and stalks considerably longer at
320 than at 380 or 450F. Careful packing and handling, prompt
precooling, adequate refrigeration, and protection from moisture
loss will provide consumers with high quality celery.
Institute of Food and Agicultural Sciences
TEACHING I FAS
This public document was promulgated at an annual cost
of $3,663.67 or 91 per copy to provide celery growers,
industry representatives, and other interested persons in-
formation on producing, harvesting and handling celery