As previously stated, southern cabbage is nearly always sold by the crate or the barrel, and these methods are common among growers in the North. The crate is the best package because of its perfect ventilation and compactness when loaded on wagons or cars. Cabbage crates vary in shape and size. The following are inside measurements of those used in various parts of the country: The Mobile crate is 16 × 16 × 26« inches; Charleston or South Carolina crate is II × 19 × 38«; Florida, 12 × 20 × 36; Lexington, 15 × 15 × 33«; Baltimore, 10 × 18 × 35; Norfolk, 10×20×37; and Chicago, 17 × 17 × 32. Second-hand truck barrels are used extensively in the North, and sugar barrels are excellent for handling winter cabbage when sold by weight. Summer shipments require free ventilation, which may be provided by cutting about four large vents with an ax in the sides of each barrel after packing. Winter shipments may be protected by lining the inside of the barrels with paper. Firm and close packing should be the aim of the shipper, whether the cabbage is sold by the package or by weight. To prevent rotting, it is important that the cabbage be dry when placed in the package. Large quantities should be shipped in refrigerator cars in warm weather, in slat cars when weather is cool, and in the warmest box cars in cold weather. An inverted V-shaped ventilator is often made of rough boards and placed lengthwise in the center of the cars when bulk shipments are made late in the summer or early in the fall.
With many local markets and in some of the large cities the crop is sold by the head or the hundred heads. When this is done the cabbage is loaded in bulk on the wagons and the heads counted when sales are made. It is a convenient method for many growers, and may be advantageous to grower or dealer, but seldom to both. The most satisfactory way is to sell by weight, and this method if generally adopted would materially raise the quality of cabbage produced in various parts of the country.
A large percentage of the late crop is stored and sold during winter and early spring. Success in storing depends largely upon the variety. The flat or domestic cabbages, as Flat Dutch, keep only fairly well under the best conditions. We must look to the Danish Ball Head class to find the long keepers. It is nearly always desirable to dispose of the flat cabbages in the fall, although some growers succeed well in holding them for midwinter sales.
Whatever method is employed, the aim must be to keep the cabbage in a perfectly sound, fresh, crisp condition. One method may succeed admirably in preserving soundness, but may fail to keep the heads crisp and juicy, while another method may be successful in maintaining a fresh, juicy condition, but fail to prevent rot. The ideal method must succeed in both of these respects. The following conditions are essential to satisfactory storage:
Fig. 69. New York Cabbage House.
1. The cabbage must be kept cool. Low temperatures are unfavorable to disease germs, which cause decay.
2. The air must be kept moist. A dry atmosphere causes the cabbage to wilt, to dry out and to lose its freshness and crispness.
3. Hard freezing must be prevented. Slight freezing does no harm, but a drop of 10 or 12 degrees below freezing may cause a total loss of the crop.
4. Although a certain amount of moisture is essential an excessive amount must be avoided, for it causes decay, especially if the temperature is high or the ventilation poor.
Fig. 70. New York Cabbage House, Showing Wall Construction.
Large storage houses are used in the great cabbage-producing districts. The following description of a house near Rochester is typical of the houses used in New York and in Erie County, Pa.
This house (Figures 69, 70 and 71) was built in 1900 at a total cost of $2,000, which includes all materials, hauling, masonry and carpentry. With the price of materials 10 years later, the cost would be nearly $3,000. The dimensions of the house are 30 x 60 feet. It has 32 bins, 3×11 feet and 14 feet high, each bin holding five tons of cabbage. The driveway is 8 feet wide and is frequently filled, giving an additional capacity of 40 tons, or 200 tons as the maximum capacity.
The ceiling (which is also the floor of the loft) is of matched Georgia pine, and has eight trap doors over the bins for ventilation, which is very essential during the first few days of storage. The floor of the lowest bin is 6 inches above the ground, to allow free circulation of air under the cabbage. The floors are made by placing 2×4 cross-pieces between the cleats on the sides of the bins and then laying 12-foot boards lengthwise. These boards should be 6 inches wide and laid with an inch or more space between them to provide for air circulation. Tiles placed in the wall at the surface of the ground and at intervals of 12 feet provide ventilation under the bins. In severe weather they may be closed by stuffing with old sacks. The bins are made of 2 × 4 uprights, with 4-inch boards as siding, the boards being placed 4 inches apart, and the uprights making an air space of 4 inches between bins. When the driveway is used for storage it is necessary to construct similar bins in the passage, as this is filled from the wagons backed in from each door toward the center of the building. The loft may be used for storing barrels and crates. (See Figures 69, 70 and 71.)
Fig. 71. New York Cabbage House Showing Bin Construction.