This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
Grapes, in spite of their perishable nature, can be sent to market in very per-fectcondition, the method of packing being varied to suit the distance they have to travel. Where the market is close, and the grapes can be delivered by the grower's own vans, the grapes can be packed in wicker baby baskets, or shallow boxes suitably padded with wood wool covered with tissue paper. About 11 lb. can be packed in a baby basket, which in its turn is lowered into a cucumber flat, which will just take it. Tons of grapes are marketed in this way, though if they are sent by rail they are liable to receive damage at the hands of porters, who will sometimes carry a couple of flats hanging vertically, one in each hand, to the utter disregard of their contents.
Fig. 385. - Grapes in Handle Basket hooped for Paper Covering.
Fig. 386 - Grapes in Shallow Handle-basket. Packed with paper.
Tin's actually happened to some of the writer's grapes, and, although each bunch was tied into the rim of the basket, the lot were utterly ruined, and with no prospect of redress from the company.
For sending long distances there is nothing to beat the cross-handled baskets (figs. 385, 386), as the salesmen supply them, or in one of the numerous forms of chip non - returnables now on the market. These chips will hold as much as 7 lb., according to the size and solidity of the bunch and the amount of packing put in. The chips should be lined with wood wool covered with tissue paper, and the bunches should be put in as tightly as possible without crushing, and each bunch tied to the rim of the basket by a piece of raffia. For shorter journeys the raffia tie may be dispensed with if care is taken to pack the grapes closely. Since adopting these non-returnable chips, the writer has never had a case of damage during the journey to market. Another most important point, which it seems almost shameful to have to impress upon growers, is that packing must be absolutely honest. It is wonderful how well second-rate grapes will look when nicely packed so as to hide the worst side. Whatever the quality, it should be labelled so that no mistake can be made, no matter how nice the sample looks on the top; and if they sell for their appearance no one is to blame in the matter. The buyers will soon get to know which sender they can trust, and so, if for no better reason, " honesty is the best policy ".
Fig. 387. - Grapes and Tomatoes in flat handle-baskets as packed in crates in Channel Islands.
Channel Island growers pack their grapes in small handle baskets, several of which are placed in a strong wooden case bound round with iron bands (Fig. 387). These cases are slung by cranes from the wharf on to the ship by means of chains or ropes fixed in the iron rings at the corners, each case being marked as shown in the illustration, or labelled "Grapes, with care" and "Lift with the crane" - the latter injunction to avoid rough usage at the hands of those who load the vessels. Fig. 388 also shows a crate of grapes packed for sea transit.