PRODUCTION

How do microgreens grow? What method will yield the highest results? What is the SOP?  Where is  the nutritional label? What crops grow on what media?  It depends… No really it sure does. Here is the general range of your fellow Florida growersgrower density/ soaking/ black out/ days to germ/ combiled from several Floridian growers but results absolutely vary but here is a place to start. 

Production time is varied based off of Coir, jute mat, hemp mat, biostrate felt, soil, or screen are the most common options for growing. Growth can be as seven days and up to 21 days from seeding to harvest, depending on the environment they are grown in and the type of microgreen that is grown. The ideal soil temperatures for germinating microgreens are 60 to 75°F and air temperatures between 60 and 70°F.  Every grower does things slightly different some use nutrients others do not. Some swear by their process and others by theirs and there is very few similarities. That is why there is no set nutrient per microgreen because a grower can alter those nutrients levels very quickly by growing too long, or not enough, or adding nutrients or not adding nutrients. The key ingredient to being a success in business is to be able to produce consistent, quality crops. 

Pre Production

What do you really need

Some people have money to invest when they launch so they buy things to give them a tactical advantage. Some people start out with a few trays and build a business empire!

Click Here for shopping guide Click here for rack set up

How to grow all these microgreens?  There is an absolutely overwhelming number of microgreens.

PRO TIP: FOCUS ON ONLY A FEW VARIETYS DO NOT TRY AND GROW TOO MANY TOO FAST

What are the recommended options?

Microgreens are commonly grown in 1020 (standard) greenhouse trays or 10- or 20-row seedling trays filled with soilless potting media. Broadcast seed evenly over the media. When seeding by hand, we have found that it is helpful to start at the edges of the tray and then seed the middle to help ensure complete and uniform coverage of the tray. A thin layer of soilless media or vermiculite can be placed over the broadcast seed. In our experience, this step promotes uniform moisture around the seed and results in more uniform stands of microgreens. 

From 1998 to 2017, there were no known food borne illness outbreaks associated with microgreens in the US, as opposed to over 50 related to sprouts and baby greens and more than 350 related to mature leafy greens during that time frame (CSU Food Science and Nutrition, 2019). However, current research shows a similar background level of bacteria between sprouts and microgreens (Riggio et al, 2019).

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The Produce Safety Rule offers comprehensive guidance and requirements, considering the evolving science on effective practices as we learn more from outbreaks. The Rule includes specific requirements for sprouts growers; these are not required for microgreens growers but are important to understand. Below is a compilation of key practices for safe microgreens production considering those policies and current research. Key practices for safe microgreen production: Food safety challenges associated with microgreens production primarily have to do with seed handling, the temperature and humidity of the growing environment, harvest practices, and the basic fact that this product is usually consumed raw. Key practices to manage these challenges include the following.

  • Seeds for microgreens can be a source of pathogens – handle seeds as carefully as the greens that you will harvest. Examine seed for contamination and spoilage upon receipt. Use clean and sanitized containers for storing seed if not in original packaging, and evaluate your storage area for cross contaminants (for example, don’t store untested fertilizers of animal origin in proximity to microgreen seeds). Follow the general package directions for safe seed storage considering humidity, temperature, and light exposure. Source seeds from a partner that has a food safety plan and cleans the seed, or clean/treat the seed yourself. Microgreen seed decontamination is a subject of ongoing discussion among researchers (Riggio et al, 2019).
  • Use soils and soil amendments that are sterilized, properly composted, or otherwise determined to be free of pathogens – get a certificate or letter from your supplier. If preparing your own compost, maintain a minimum temperature of 131 degrees F for a minimum of 3 consecutive days for a static pile, or 15 days for a turned pile. Or, consider a soil-less growing media.
  • Follow FSMA guidance on agricultural water – water must be tested and have no detectible E. coli per 100 ml to ensure it is safe for seed rinsing, soaking, treatment, and pre-germination, as well as production irrigation and any post-harvest washing. Note: municipal water is treated and tested; test results are usually available online from the utility. Find information on how to test agricultural water in Nevada here.
  • Incorporating UV lights into indoor microgreen production can help reduce pathogen loads, but they do not eliminate them.
  • Establish procedures to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces (tools, harvest containers, and equipment) to prevent contamination of seeds and microgreens. Choosing tools carefully reduces the risk of contamination. Harvest knives (photo at left), scissors, and pruning shears made of hard, non-porous surfaces can be easily cleaned and sanitized. Mechanized tools, such as the greens harvester pictured below, can increase efficiency but should be carefully evaluated to ensure that all elements can be cleaned and sanitized between harvests, particularly if GAP certification is of interest.
  • Post-harvest washing of microgreens appears to be ineffective and could increase the risk of contamination (due to tissue damage that invites pathogen growth). To date, indications are that it is best not to wash microgreens on the farm.
  • Ensure that worker health and hygiene practices are in place to prevent contamination of seeds and microgreens. Key practices include ongoing training, monitoring for illness (do not handle microgreens when ill!), and proper handwashing and glove use.
  • Monitor for pests and manage them to prevent contamination of seeds and microgreens. Do a pre-harvest risk assessment (evaluate the crop before harvest) for any signs of contaminants or physical hazards. Remove hazards and any affected microgreens.
  • Choose and store packaging safety – covered, off the floor, and at least 18 inches from walls. Safe handling and final packaging of microgreens at the farm limits any potential contamination of your product down the delivery line (such as at a wholesaler or retailer) and can protect your reputation.
  • Make sure any pesticides or other chemicals are approved for microgreens and follow the EPA label instructions. Also check to make sure that sanitizers do not leave a residue that could compromise germination, the quality of the crop, or public health.
  • Include your farm name, address, and harvest date on the final packaging. Also, consider including a wash before serving disclaimer. Keep ‘traceability’ records (seed to harvest to delivery) so that you are prepared to handle an illness associated with your product, identify potential causes, and limit exposure.

 

SOPS- standard operating procedure is a set of written instructions that describes the step-by-step process that must be taken to properly perform a routine activity.

SDS- An SDS (formerly known as MSDS) includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical.

  • It provides guidance for each specific chemical on things such as:
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • First aid procedures
    • Spill clean-up procedures

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