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Prepare for Fair: Preserve Quality of Veggies

When you're growing a vegetable to display in a fair or other special occasion, timing the crop for proper maturity is critical, says a University of Georgia expert.

"Many vegetable crops don't last long in the display, especially in hot weather," says Wayne McLaurin, an Extension Service horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

For crops that will mature ahead of time, McLaurin says, pick them slightly immature. And put them in good storage until a day or two before the show. Then take them out to let them ripen.

Some crops store well in a cool, dry place, such as a basement. These include potatoes, onions, winter squash, watermelons, pumpkins, dry beans and cushaw pumpkins (sometimes called crookneck squash).

Some Require Refrigeration

The rest require some refrigeration and/or moisture to keep them in good condition. Right after harvest, clean these and refrigerate them.

Those with a naturally waxy or corky skin, McLaurin says, may be refrigerated dry. These include tomato, pepper, cucumber and cantaloupe.

Store many root crops and leafy vegetables, he says, in loose plastic bags. Or sprinkle them daily with fresh water and keep them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper. Such crops would include green beans, carrots, beets, sweet corn, cabbage or other leafy vegetables.

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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