Rutabagas

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Canada No. 1 is the only grade provided for Rutabagas. Some of the requirements of this grade are listed below.

Similar Varietal Characteristics

While the majority of rutabagas grown for the fresh market are of the Laurentian Variety, which is a purple-topped variety, there are other types and varieties grown. White-fleshed summer type turnips do not come under our grade standards.

The grade requires, that "purple-topped" specimens are not mixed in the same container with "bronze-topped" specimens or that distinctly elongated types are mixed with specimens which are distinctly global or round in shape.

Rutabagas must be firm, which means unyielding to slight pressure, not soft, or shrivelled to any extent.

Shape

Rutabagas are required to be reasonably regular in contour. Distinctly ridged, rough or otherwise misshapen specimens would not meet this requirement.

The length of the trimmed specimen must not exceed the diameter by more than 1 1/2 times. The rutabaga should have one neck and one main tap root.

Trimming

The trimming operation should be done so that the finished product remains the characteristic shape of the rutabaga. The neck should be cut back flat - not over 3/4 inch in length and not in the shoulder of the rutabaga. A neck about 1/4 inch in length would be ideal. All green leafy growth must be removed, as it is very susceptible to decay under warm humid conditions. If all the rings on the top have been cut off down into the flesh then the specimen has been overtrimmed.

Secondary roots (side roots) and rootlets should be removed. Trimming is not allowed on the upper half of the root but the lower half may be smoothly but not deeply trimmed to remove surface blemishes. Deep trimming which alters the general shape is not allowed.

Packers should be encouraged to do a minimum of trimming as abraded areas and cuts are more likely to discolour than the unbroken skin, and with the "unwaxed" product especially, the exposed flesh accelerates dehydration.

Size

Rutabagas in packages must be marked to indicate the minimum and maximum size. Size within a container must not vary more than 2 inch in diameter. Rutabagas which are packed within the following size ranges may be marked as indicated:

  • 2 inch (50 mm) to 4 inch (100 mm) may be marked "Small"
  • 3 1/2 inch (89 mm) to 5 1/2 inch (140 mm) may be marked "Small-Medium"
  • 4 inch (102 mm) to 6 inch (152 mm) may be marked "Medium"
  • 5 inch (127 mm) to 7 inch (178 mm) may be marked "Large"

Prior to September 1 in each crop year "Small-Medium" may have a minimum diameter of 3 inch (76.2 mm) and a maximum of 5 1/2 inch (140 mm). There is a (Nil) tolerance for rutabagas which are more than 1/2 inch outside the designated size range.

Colour

The only consideration here would be discolouration caused by waxing, dirt or staining which materially affect appearance. The appearance will be materially affected when the rutabaga is not practically free from caked dirt, mould or decayed matter, or is stained or has loose dirt over more than 15% of its surface in the aggregate. "Practically free" means 5% of the surface area in the aggregate. Waxed rutabagas must be clean. On the certificate the varietal colour, as well as the cleanliness will be reported under the "Colour" heading.

Example: "Purple top, waxing clean, bright" or "Bronze top, mostly clean, some materially caked with dirt". The percentage that are materially caked with dirt will be shown under the grade defects if the lot fails and a certificate is issued.

Maturity

There is no maturity requirement for rutabagas, however, they must be "Firm" show this under "Maturity" on the certificate.

Rutabagas are required to be "Free From":

Decay

  • Any soft mushy condition,
  • Wet freezing injury
  • Insects or Insect larva if present on or in the rutabaga.

Blackrot

This is a highly infectious disease which may originate from untreated infected seed or from infected crop residue left on the field. The disease in the root shows up as blackened vascular bundles which appear very prominently as a ring just under the skin and run from the top to the bottom of the root. As the disease advances the bacteria may escape from the vascular system and cause extensive firm black areas in the root tissue. Any amount is scoreable under the general tolerance if it is firm or under the decay tolerance if it has become soft and mushy from secondary infection.

Free From "Damage"

Discolouration after waxing

Discolouration, usually on the lower half of the rutabaga sometimes shows up after the product has been waxed for a few days. Needless to say that this detracts from the marketability of the product at the wholesale and retail level.

At shipping point the appearance and shipping quality will be considered as damaged when:

  • The discolouration is a dark grey, dark brown to black shows some penetration of the skin and effects over 5% of the surface area of the lower half.
  • The discolouration is a light brown or tan and shows some penetration of the skin and exceeds 15% of the surface area of the lower half.

While the above type of discolouration generally affects the "waxed" product scoring of discolouration of the "unwaxed" product would be handled in the same manner. Storage staining which shows no penetration of the skin but is comparable to the above discolouration will be scored in a similar manner. However, light coloured storage staining should be ignored.

At Destination

All scoreable discoloured areas may not aggregate more than 25% of the lower half of the rutabaga.

Waxed Product

The product may be designated as "waxed" if clean, dry roots have been immersed in a was solution. The recommended temperature of a hot wax application is 260 ºF. (Safe limits range from 250 ºF. to 270 ºF.) Rutabagas should not be immersed for more than one second. If the temperature is too low the coating of the wax is too heavy and the rutabaga is dull, rough and of poor appearance. When the temperature of the wax is too high or the exposure to the heat is too long and the root may be burned. The colour turns green or the root is made unsightly and may soon decay. Dull or opaque areas indicate that the root was too damp when it was dipped in the wax. The trapping of moisture beneath the wax is one of the most common causes of subsequent decay or loss.

External Injury on the Lower half (White)

Injury on the lower half of the rutabaga (White) which does not penetrate into the flesh, such as:

  • healed surface worm injury, flea-beetle injury or other surface injury, and
  • does not affect more than 25% of the surface area of the lower half is allowed.

Freezing Injury

Any wet freezing injury is scored under the decay tolerance. Rutabagas in a frozen state should be allowed to thaw before inspecting. Sometimes freezing will come out of rutabagas (field frost) without causing discolouration, but leaving the flesh in a pithy condition. To assess freezing injury, break the rutabaga instead of cutting it. Breaking can be accomplished by striking the root against a sharp object such as a bulk bin, post, etc.) The injured area will break "pebbly" and the sound area will break smooth and clean. Damage will then be assessed on a 5% waste basis (cut-off) provided the root is still firm.

Freezing injury may also cause a sluffing off of the skin on handling, leaving patches of flesh exposed; score when any skin is missing, exposing flesh on more than 5% of the surface of the upper half.

Field frost sometimes causes a split in the neck of varying depths. These are especially objectionable in the "waxed" product as they allow wash water to penetrate the pithy area and when this is sealed with wax it is very susceptible to decay. The following are considered to damage the rutabaga.

  • Any cracks which are discoloured. 
  • Cracks which penetrate into the flesh more than 1 inch.

Growth Cracks

Growth cracks are scored on an appearance basis. The following are considered to have "damaged" the appearance of the rutabaga:

  • Any growth crack that is not well healed - (flesh exposed). 
  • Any growth crack which is discoloured (contrasts sharply with the background colour). 
  • Any growth crack which is deep. (Over 1/4 inch in depth). 
  • Other growth cracks which: 
    • Individually exceed 1/2 the length of the rutabaga (i.e., from the neck into the white (lower half). 
    • More than one growth crack which aggregate more than 1 1/2 times one allowable growth crack. Disregard any normal roughness around the neck.

Injury on the Upper Half (Purple)

While trimming is not allowed on the upper half (Purple);

  • Rub marks or slight mechanical injury are allowed providing the marks are well healed, reasonably smooth, are not badly discoloured and do not exceed 5% of the surface of the upper half of the rutabaga in the aggregate.
  • Flea-beetle injury which does not penetrate into the flesh would be scored in this manner.

Watercore

Watercore, sometimes referred to as brown heart, is usually the result of growing conditions and/or boron deficiency in the soil. The root takes on excessive water usually after a prolonged dry spell which ruptures the cells leaving a firm, water-soaked appearance of the flesh when cut. Severely affected specimens may be off-shaped or have a rough corky to leathery skin (fish-scale appearance) and may turn brownish and punky inside. Less affected specimens may or may not show any of these external indications. The inspector should cut specimens showing any of these indications and some otherwise defective specimens. If watercore appears to be a problem he should then proceed with one of the cutting programs outlined in the handbook. Watercore will generally be scored as a grade defect. The following instances will be allowed :

  • Solid water-soaked area (not discoloured) and not exceeding 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • Light freckled area not exceeding 1 1/2 inch in diameter in the aggregate.

Note: The above are allowable on a rutabaga 4 1/2 inch in diameter. On rutabagas larger or smaller damage would be adjusted accordingly

Worm injury

Worm injury is generally caused by the cabbage root maggot, which is the larva of a fly slightly smaller than a house fly. The adult lays its eggs in the soil adjacent to the rutabaga and when the egg hatches the larva feeds off the root under the soil. The rutabaga is scored as a defect when:

  • The larva is present.
  • The tunnels or discolouration penetrate into the root more than 1 inch in the aggregate. 
  • Surface injury only (see surface injury to lower half).

Marks on packages

  • Name and address.
  • Grade and size.
  • Size must be closely associated with grade

Example : Canada No. 1 Small; or Canada No. 1 4 to 6 inches.

  • Net Weight - if rutabagas are in other than a measure. (Bushel, half bushel, etc.) 
  • May be marked "Waxed" if clean dry rutabagas have been immersed in a wax solution.

Tolerances

Tolerances are applied by count.

Shipping Point

  • Below designated size 10%
  • Over designated size 10%
  • Grade defects and Condition defects 10% (including but not exceeding 5% decay).

Destination

Rutabagas are one of the 8 named commodities which are subject to an additional tolerance of 5% for condition defects including but not exceeding an additional 2% decay.

  • Below designated size 10%
  • Over designated size 10%

Grade defects (Not over 10%) + Condition defects (Not over 7% decay) } 15% total

  • There is a nil tolerance for rutabagas which are outside the designated size range by more than 1/2 inch.
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