I have had a request for more information about lettuce. When I did the last post about lettuce I said I would post information about head lettuce. Well, I guess it is about time to "make good" my promise - or was it a threat? In any case, I now offer some pictures and information about how they grow head lettuce in Arizona. My pictures were taken in the Wellton, AZ area.
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If you can make it out the caption is "Massive field of head lettuce".
Actually, this is not a really big field. Bigger ones are grown south of Yuma, they are
visible from Highway 95 that runs to the Mexican border.
In the foreground is the remnants of harvested lettuce which will be plowed under.
Only the highest quality lettuce heads are bagged then boxed.
Lower quality heads are just put in boxes, not bagged first.
Very low quality heads or heads that are too large for marked are put in very large
containers (about 3' deep and 4' square)
Even in the heat the workers wear hats, scarves & long sleeve clothing to protect from
sunburn and possibly chemicals.
Close-up view of the bagging station. Loaded boxes go onto the trailer and when it is fully loaded the trailer is pulled from the field to the roadside where it will be taken by truck to a cooling station at the packing plant before being shipped all over the country & to Canada
Lettuce quality is judged by many standards including size. If there are many heads not quite large enough for market they field may be picked a second time a while later. If the heads are too large for market (retail sales like grocery stores) then they will go into the large bins where they are washed & chopped up for bulk sales. (perhaps your favourite salad bar?)
The cooling plant shown in the pictures above was in use in Wellton AZ when the pictures were taken but it was dismantled a few years ago and the trailer loads of lettuce are now trucked in to Yuma to be processed. (A trip of about 30 miles)
I think that is enough about lettuce - I will try to post other crops soon.