Broccoli Growing Guide:
The following write-up details about Broccoli growing for beginners.
Introduction to Broccoli growing
Broccoli is an annual or biennial plant which comes from the cabbage family and its large immature flowering head is the edible part eaten as a vegetable. The cultivation of broccoli plant must have been started in ancient Italy. The broccoli plant grows up to 40 to 60 cm in their first year and grows up to 150 to 200 cm in the second year. The plants has thick green stalk and the leaves are thick, leathery, oblong shape which are grey bluish to green in color. The plant roots are very shallow and almost 90 percent of the root mass is found in the 20 to 30 cm soil depth; some lateral roots go reach up to two meter deep. It produces large branching green flower heads.
Broccoli grows well in places where the weather is cool with full sun, water and fertile soil. China and India are the top most producers of the vegetable broccoli. The vegetable is considered as super food because of its healthful reputation. Whoever its flavor remains controversial as some love the taste while some do not.
Growing broccoli in a greenhouse
Broccoli can be grown in greenhouse and in terrace gardens. It gives the ability to enjoy fresh broccoli throughout the year. In places where the weather conditions and temperatures are not favorable; grower can control the temperature inside a greenhouse. Broccoli plants in the greenhouse are protected from hot temperature and frostbite.
Scientific / Botanical name of Broccoli
The scientific name of broccoli is Brassica Oleraceavaritalica
Family Name of Broccoli
Broccoli comes from the Brassica group. It belongs to the cole crop family that includes vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.
Other names of Broccoli
- Broccoli Flower.
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Broccoli in Indian Languages
- English – Broccoli
- Gujarati –બ્રોકોલી(Brokoli).
- Malayalam –ബ്രോക്കോളി(brēākkēāḷi).
- Tamil –ப்ரோக்கோலி(Prōkkōli).
- Kannada –ಕೋಸುಗಡ್ಡೆ(Kōsugaḍḍe).
- Telugu –బ్రోకలీ(Brōkalī).
- Hindi –ब्रोकोली(Brokolee).
- Bangla –ব্রোকলি(Brōkali).
- Punjabi -ਬ੍ਰੋ CC ਓਲਿ(Brō CC ōli).
Broccoli Varieties / Broccoli Cultivars
- Belstar F1 is suitable for early and late production. In good growing conditions, a grower can expect yield in 70 days after transplantation. The vegetable can weigh around 400 to 500 grams.
- Fiesta F1 is suitable for production in late summer to autumn. A grower can expect yield in 80 days after transplantation.The vegetable can weigh around 300 to 400 grams.
- Beaumont F1is suited for production in summer and autumn. A grower can expect yield in 85 days after transplantation.The vegetable can weigh around 400 to 500 grams.
- Blue Wind F1 is an early variety. Yield can be expected from 50 to 55 days after transplantation. It produces large, tight heads and has good side shoot production for a longer harvest.
- De Cicco Heirloom is best suited for home garden as the plant matures at a variable rate. Yield can be expected from 45 to 50 days after transplantation. The vegetable is small in size about 8 to 10 cm (main head) with more number of side shoots over a few weeks. In this variety it’s recommended to harvest main head at seven centimeter to encourage side shoot production.
- Calabrese Heirloom is best suited for fall as the heads get sweeter as the weather cools. The vegetable is medium size with deep green in color. After main head is harvested a grower can expect good side shoot production. Yield can be expected from 60 to 65 days after transplantation.
- Arcadia F1 is best suited for commercial production. The heads are uniform small headed growing 13 to 15 cm in diameter. This cultivar has strong cold tolerance and resists head rot, downy mildew and brown bead.
Climate and Soil requirement for Broccoli growing
Broccoli is a cool season growing crop. The seeds germinate well at soil temperature 22°C. The plants grow well in temperatures 15°C to 23°C with six to eight hours of sun daily. Though broccoli can be grown in a wide range of soils, for high yield and harvest the soil must be well drained, rich, and fertile with organic matter. The soil must be free from cods and pebbles with good structure as the plant has shallow roots. For optimum growth and discourage clubroot disease, the soil pH must be 6.0 to 7.0 range.
Land preparation in Broccoli growing
The land must be prepared thoroughly and deeply with 4 to 5 ploughed to fine tilth. Broccoli needs lots of nutrients, farm yard manure must be incorporated in the last plough of the field. Prepare land that permits optimal soil water air relations and good root penetration. Land must be free from pebbles and preceding crop residues. Tilage operations carried by tractor drawn implements are quick and ideal.
Propagation in Broccoli growing
Direct seeding of broccoli plants is possible especially so with a fall crop. To harvest in summer, start your broccoli seeds by early spring. For commercial broccoli growing, transplant is highly recommended.
Seed rate, season, sowing and spacing in Broccoli growing
Sow the seeds in nursery or in seedling beds in the green house or in controlled conditions. Transplant the seedlings at about 24 to 28 days or when the seedlings are with 4 to 5 true leaves from the nursery. As the plant grows they require more space hence seedlings must be planted at 40 cm to 45 cm apart and 60 cm to 70 cm in row on a raised bed of 90 cm to 100 cm. Plant seeds in two cm deep or transplant slightly deeper than they were grown in nursery beds. IF ever seeds are directly sown in the field then after germination when plants reach six to eight centimeter in length thinning must be carried out.The usual planting rate of seed per hectare is 300 grams.
Irrigation in Broccoli growing
Broccoli crops need regular irrigation, particularly in sandy soils. Both drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are effective farming methods while drip irrigation works better and recommended. As the roots are shallow rooted, irrigation must be frequently applied to prevent from injuries in dry soil. At times of heavy rains or in rainy season, fields must have proper drainage. Steady moisture in the soil will keep the plant healthy, grows fast, and produce good heads.
Manures and Fertilizers in Broccoli growing
The plants are heavy feeders and regular dose of fertilizer is much needed. A balanced fertilizer and organic manure with rich nutrients gives enough energy that will support large full heads of broccoli. Chemical fertilizers are applied the first time after transplanting. The second application must be after 15 days of first side dressing. The third application must be made on the sides of the furrows and around the plant when the flower buds appear or start to form.
Intercultural operations in Broccoli growing
Effective weed management is a critical step for successful broccoli head production. Weeds compete for light, nutrients, water thereby interfere in yield. Weeds can be controlled either by cultural control methods (transplant seedlings free of weeds) or mechanical control methods (mowing, discing, plowing or hand pulling of weeds). A grower can reduce perennial weeds by solarization with black plastic sheet or by using herbicide sprays before planting.
As broccoli is a shallow rooted crop; weeds must be removed as early as possible by hoeing the soil by either hand or sickle but not too deep to damage the roots. Proper selection of herbicides and fumigants will control weed growth. Application of mulches will prevent weed germination by blocking sunlight from reaching the soil.
Pests and diseases in Broccoli growing
Insects enjoy eating broccoli plants as much as the grower does. Care must be taken against broccoli pests and diseases as they will rob the vegetable profits.
- Insects in Broccoli growing:
- Cabbage worms are the larvae of moths and butterflies. These pests cause serious damage as they eat the leaves. The only way to control them is either by hand picking and destroying them or with insecticides that contains Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad.
- Aphids are tiny insects found beneath the leaves. The leaves turn discolored and wrinkled as these soft-bodied insects feed and suck sap from the leaves. Infected plants are controlled by a strong spray of water and for serious infestations, insecticidal soap or neem oil must be used.
- Flea beetles are tiny black insects. They damage the foliage by leaving numerous tiny holes and continuous feeding will reduce the yield and will kill seedlings. To control use an insecticide labeled for flea beetles.
- Cutworms eat young seedlings at ground level and sometimes bore into the heads of mature plants. Spray with B.thuringiensis or spinosad to control.
- Diseases in Broccoli growing:
- Clubroot is caused by a fungus in the soil. The plants are wilted and leaves get discolored. The fungus affect the roots not allowing what roots normally do. There is no effective organic or chemical treatment for clubroot fungus. If the field is highly infected, it is recommended not to plant for another four years at least. Clubroot prefers acidic soils; add lime to soils that are acidic at least 2 months before planting.
- Mildew is one of the most irritating broccoli diseases and will be high in damp weather conditions. Powdery patches and greyish spots are found on the leaves and new shoots. Mildew invade the insides of the plants and attacks lethally.
- Black rot is a serious bacterial disease found in broccoli farm. Plants can be infected at any stage of development. When infected the bacteria move downward into the stem and roots through the xylem. Disease resistant cultivars and disease free seeds are recommended.
Harvesting in Broccoli growing
Harvesting must be taken when the heads are firm and immature. It takes 45 to 70 days from transplant for harvesting depending on the cultivar planted. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem a few centimetres below the heads that are 10 to 14 cm average in diameter. Broccoli must be rapidly cooled after harvested to prevent deterioration as they have high rate of respiration. Broccoli will remain fresh for four to five days in high humidity cold storage conditions.
Yield in Broccoli growing
Under proper farming conditions and disease free plantation, a grower can expect around 350 kilograms per acre. As the initial investments are relatively low, grower can achieve have high profits.
Marketing in Broccoli growing
Broccoli has much demand locally because of its health benefits and can be marketed in local markets directly or by marketing agency. Broccoli are harvested early in the morning before the temperature reaches high and transported in a refrigerated vehicles to avoid deterioration.
Broccoli growing tips
- The plants grow best in rich soil with humus, compost and well rotten farm yard manure.
- Broccoli plants cannot tolerate hot temperature or weather conditions.
- Add compost as top dressing around the plants base as soon as the main head appears. However care must be taken not to sprinkle compost against the stem.
- Ample moisture in the soil must be retained.
- Never water the head as it will lead to flowering.
- To prevent weed growth and moisture retention apply mulch.
- By installing cardboard cutworms can be prevented.
- As the broccoli plants are heavy feeders, application of chemical fertilizers on timely basis is recommended.