Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lettuce

(Jan) The agricultural valley immediately north of Yuma is like being in an amazingly large vegetable garden. There are thousands of acres of broccoli, cabbage, different varieties of lettuce and other vegetables. Each time we drove into town from Mittry Lake we would see fields in varying degrees of production; lettuce being harvested, vegetables just planted, crop residue being disked up or some with planting beds just being prepared. 80% of the winter lettuce and 90% of the country’s winter vegetable crops are grown here in Yuma.
We watched lettuce being harvested recently. It is done mostly by hand. As a farm worker cuts the lettuce head at ground level, he discards the outer leaves, bags it and then lays it on the ground. Another worker comes and collects the bagged lettuce and puts it in a box on the bottom tier of a two tiered platform; the empty boxes are on the top tier. As the boxes are filled it goes up a short conveyor belt where the boxes are stacked. As you can see from the picture it’s powered by a tractor that backs up slowly as the workers harvest the lettuce. The crops are brought to a packing shed which cools the produce and immediately loads it on a truck which is delivered to your grocery store. Two of the labels from this area you may recognize are Foxy and Dole.

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