When the demand is great and prices high, it requires patience to wait until the early crop is fully ready to market. The fact is that a large percentage of early cabbage is cut before the heads become sufficiently solid to hold up well. The result is the market is crowded with inferior cabbage, which causes dissatisfaction among dealers as well as among consumers. The bulk of the southern crop is packed and sold in crates or barrels, with insufficient regard to the weights of the filled packages. A nearly matured head will occupy about as much space as it would a few days later when hard and solid, but would weigh much less. Sales are always restricted when the heads are soft and loose. , It is doubtful whether cabbage should ever be cut until solid, except late in the fall, when there is danger of severe weather that would entail loss. If sold by weight it is seldom that the increase in weight will not make up for the decline in price.
A large butcher knife is the most satisfactory tool for cutting cabbage. A whetstone should be kept in the field and used often enough to maintain a sharp edge on the knife. In cutting, place one hand on the head, first determining, if necessary, its solidity, then with the other hand sever it while it is drawn to one side, retaining as few outer leaves as possible. Whether sold by weight or in packages the outer leaves should be removed. When the crop is to be stored in pits or houses, it is customary to retain two or three outer leaves for protection. If the cabbage is to be buried, a sharp hatchet is the most serviceable tool with which to cut the stems.
Two or three rows of extra early varieties are often planted at convenient intervals to provide roadways for gathering the crop. Intensive gardeners often use wheelbarrows with large boxes, while growers cultivating large fields generally plant so that a wagon will straddle two rows. There is no difficulty in collecting the late crop, for it is usually cut clean. Cabbage should always be handled with care, to prevent bruising. An excellent plan is to keep a man on the wagon to catch and place the heads as fast as two or three men can cut and trim them. If cut during the day when the wagons are absent, three or four rows may be placed together for convenience in loading.