Grow Local Ginger!East Branch Ginger Newsletter
Harvesting Your Ginger Crop
Harvest Newsletter
September 2011

In this Issue:
How to harvest

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I just got back from Hawaii! 
Fresh Baby Ginger!
Susan Holding Fresh Baby Ginger at Puna Organics

I went to visit Hugh and Dan at Puna Organics during Baby Ginger season. This was an invaluable experience to see how the ginger is harvested and handled at this stage.

Stem Thickness
Ginger stems thicken as rhizomes grow bigger under soil
Hello Ginger Growers! 

It's harvest time for ginger! But you don't need to harvest all of it at once. To 
determine if your ginger crop is ready, dig up a small test plant to see how far
along the rhizomes are. If the stems coming from the soil/media are more than
1/2-3/4" in diameter, then they are ready to harvest. This stem diameter is a 
direct reflection of the size of rhizomes under the surface. The larger the stems,
the larger the rhizomes. If the stems are looking skinny or lanky the rhizomes are
still thin under the soil. I encourage you to dig up a test plant anyways to get to
know your crop and what it's doing as it grows. This is the best way for you to know
for future seasons when your crop is ready. If you know that you have underfed
and the stem diameter reflects this, it may be hard to catch up on rhizome growth
this late in the season. Harvest what you can and feed more next season. Skinny
ginger rhizomes taste just as well as thick ginger rhizomes. If you have questions
about your ginger don't hesitate to send pictures of your crop. Pictures are a great
way to convey your questions or concerns. We want everyone to have success with growing ginger so keep in touch!

Take care,


Do's and Do Not's of Harvest 
Dig around ginger hands to loosen roots
Dig around ginger hands to loosen roots
Cover harvested ginger to reduce field heat
Cover Harvested Ginger to Reduce Sunscald and Field Heat
Green rhizomes from sun exposure
Green Rhizomes From Sun Exposure
Wash rhizomes with bud scales to reduce damage
Wash with bud scales to reduce damage to pretty pink scales
Trim tops with a sharp knife
Trim roots and tops off with sharp knife
  • The more you cut ginger the less time the ginger will hold in storage
  • Cut pieces from hands when ready to take to market
  • Green (solarized) rhizome is not pretty to look at, but it is still edible and usable
    (in commercial ginger trade these pieces are culls caused by not enough soil
    covering rhizomes)
  • You can pull baby ginger out of the ground if the soil or media is loose and friable;
    otherwise, dig around the hands to loosen roots and then undermine with
    digging tool or pull from shoots
  • In grow bags, tip bag and pull plants from bag (be careful if reusing bags)
  • In the field, dig up plants, trim tops and roots off, haul to washing station
  • Leave tops on through washing if selling with foliage; be careful about breaking the ginger off from foliage flopping around! Bunch foliage together to minimize breaking the hands
  • Tops generally trimmed to about a 1/4-1/2" above rhizome
  • Try not to break/cut hands apart until ready to take to market; then, cut ginger where it would naturally break, not in the middle of a fat piece of ginger
  • Wash your ginger with a power wash nozzle on the hose end
  • Do not wash against the pink bud scales; they might get knocked off
  • To remove soil from between rhizomes, gently spread slightly apart while washing and most soil should come out
  • If soil cannot be removed from between the hands, use a knife to gently push soil through slightly separated rhizomes
  • Minimize field heat by covering harvested rhizomes with trimmed tops
  • Did I mention not to make too many cuts on the ginger...!
    Leave tops on or trim them off, depending upon your market
    Trim tops or leave them on, depending upon your market



Storing Ginger


Post harvest before market (after washing):

Use open (breathable) harvest containers. Store in a cool (60-75F), dry place out

of direct sunlight (sunlight will cause rhizomes to turn green). Leave cut tops on 

open mesh harvest containers after washing if trucking them out of field or

transporting them to drying area. If packing for transport, be sure that the rhizomes

are dry before boxing. Ginger hands can be dried by laying hands out on a bench 

or rack... just be sure it is in full shade! Be gentle with the ginger. It does not have

the thick hide on it that mature ginger does and rough handling may break off the

pink bud scales or damage hands.

Be gingerly with your Baby Ginger crop!
Be gingerly with your Baby Ginger crop!


Storage options for you and your customers:

Store ginger in refrigerator or at room temperature (60-72F).

It should last about two to three weeks at room temperature before it starts to 

get wrinkly. It can still be used after this point but will have less moisture. If stored

in the refrigerator, ginger will not hold for any length of time when brought back out

into room temperatures. So, once in the refrigerator, leave in the refrigerator! It will 

last about three weeks in the refrigerator. Your customers may see the pink bud 

scales turn to darker pink or purple when it is stored in the refrigerator. This is also okay. Ginger rhizomes can also be frozen, pickled or dried. If you have winter 

markets, you may want to freeze some of your crop to take to market over the 

winter months...

Pink bud scales turn purple in refrigerator - still edible!
Pink bud scales turn purple in the refrigerator - still edible


Recipes to Come!


There are many ways to use ginger! It can be used in a myriad of
cooking recipes.  It ban be pickled, dried, juiced and frozen. The next
newsletter will talk about recipes for such uses. Take care and keep in
Line Drawing Ginger
East Branch Ginger
Baby Ginger Drying
Baby Ginger Drying