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HORT410 - Vegetable Crops

Spinach, Beet and Swiss Chard - Notes

Spinach
  • Common name: spinach.
  • Latin name: Spinacia oleracea.
  • Family: Chenopodiaceae [Chenopodiaceae Images].
  • Diploid (2n = 12, diploid).
  • Origin: southwestern Asia; probably introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages; brought to N. America by European settlers.
  • Cool season, frost tolerant.
  • Undergoes flowering (bolting) in hot weather.
  • Spinach is dioecious; plants generally produce either male (staminate) or female (pistillate) flowers.
  • Dicotyledon.
  • Annual herb.
  • Harvested organ: nutritious leaves.
  • Harvesting begins after five leaves have developed; can continue until flowering occurs.
  • Most cultivars produce between 22 and 26 leaves.
  • Harvested leaves must be free of yellowing and floral parts, and should be rapidly hydrocooled or vacuum cooled to minimize respiration.
  • Harvested leaves can be safely stored at 0 C with high humidity to prevent wilting and desiccation.
  • Leaves must remain fully turgid to be marketable.
  • Spinach varieties have a range of maturities from 35 to 60 days after planting.
  • Spinach varieties include smooth-leaved and savoyed (wrinkled) leaved types. The smooth-leaved types are preferred for processing and the savoyed tyes for fresh market. Fresh market spinach is hand harvested, but processing spinach can be machine cut at the crown, just above soil level.
  • Major insect pests of spinach in the Midwest:

    Beet
  • Common name: beet.
  • Latin name: Beta vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris
  • Family: Chenopodiaceae [Chenopodiaceae Images].
  • Diploid (2n = 18).
  • Cool season.
  • Dicotyledon.
  • Biennial, usually grown as an annual. Prolonged exposure to temperatures of less than 5 C causes the plant to flower as an annual.
  • Origin: coastal regions of Europe, Africa, and the Near East; beets were first grown for their leafy tops; they began to be cultivated as a root vegetable sometime in the early Christian Era. Red beetroots were developed by the Romans --- in the late Middle Ages beetroot was referred to as 'Roman beet'.
  • Wild beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima is a common seaside plant with fleshy leaf blades, found around the coasts of S. and W. Europe, N. Africa & Asia.
  • Beet history (TAMU).
  • Harvested organs: leaves and edible roots [usually harvested at a diameter of 2.5 to 4 cm].
  • Varieties differ for root shape: flat-rooted (Crosby's Egyptian and Early Wonder), round (Detroit Dark Red and Ruby Queen), and carrot-rooted types available.
  • Certain varieties (e.g. Green Top) grown only for a leaves.
  • Usually direct seeded.
  • Major insect pests of beets:
  • Minor insect pests of beets in the Midwest:

    Swiss Chard
  • Common name: swiss chard.
  • Latin name: Beta vulgaris L. subsp. cicla.
  • Family: Chenopodiaceae [Chenopodiaceae Images].
  • Diploid (2n = 18).
  • Cool season.
  • Dicotyledon.
  • Biennial, usually grown as an annual.
  • Cultivated by the Greeks.
  • Harvested organ: young leaves [22KB image of swiss chard leaf].
  • Major insect pests of swiss chard in the Midwest: (see: ID-56: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2003 - Salad and Green Crops (PURDUE) [pdf] for information on spinach, and ID-56: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2003 - Root Crops (PURDUE) [pdf] for information on beet varieties, spacing, fertilizing, and specific disease, weed and insect control recommendations for the Midwest)

    Sources of information:

  • Welty, C., Weinzierl, R., Oloumi-Sadeghi, H. Leaf crops. In "Vegetable Insect Management With Emphasis on the Midwest", (ed. R. Foster, B. Flood), Meister Publishing Co., Willoughby, Ohio, pp. 113-126 (1995).
  • Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production", Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
  • Lorenz, O.A. Spinach. In "The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia", Version 1.5, Grolier, Inc. (1992).
  • Maynard, D.N. Beet. In "The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia", Version 1.5, Grolier, Inc. (1992).
  • Phillips, R., Rix, M. "The Random House Book of Vegetables", Random House, NY (1993).
  • Pandey, S.C., Kalloo, G. Spinach, Spinacia oleracea L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 325-336 (1993).
  • Pink, D.A.C. Beetroot, Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 473-477 (1993).
  • Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers, ID-56, eds. R. Foster, D. Egel, E. Maynard, R. Weinzierl, H. Taber, L.W. Jett, B. Hutchinson, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, 2003.
  • Singhal, R.S., Kulkarni, P.R. Leafy vegetables. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 533-588 (1998).

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  • David Rhodes
    Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
    Horticulture Building
    625 Agriculture Mall Drive
    Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010
    Last Update: 01/07/08