Cauliflower Growing Guide:
The following content details about cauliflower growing.
Introduction of Cauliflower growing
Cauliflower is a cool season crop which requires even temperatures throughout its growing till harvest. It comes from the Cruciferae family and is more difficult to grow compared to its relative crops as it is too sensitive to heat and cold. Cauliflower is originated from Mediterranean region and its cultivation started way back in 6 BC. British introduced cauliflower growing to India in 1822.
Cauliflower is a biennial grown as an annual for its edible buds called curds. The solid head curds are formed on the top of central stalks surrounded by ribbed, coarse green leaves. Curds are tightly packed immature flower buds where most of the nutrients are stored for their growth. Curds can be of many colors cream, white, green or purple. Cauliflowers can be grown in wide variety of spaces like pots, backyards, balconies, terrace, greenhouse, polyhouse, shade net and containers.
Scientific / Botanical name of Cauliflower
The scientific or botanical name of Cauliflower is Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.
Family Name of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a Cruciferous vegetable of the family Brassicaceae.
Cauliflower in Indian Languages
- Gujarati – ફૂલકોબી(Phūlakōbī).
- Malayalam –കോളിഫ്ലവർ(kēāḷiphlavar).
- Tamil –காலிஃபிளவர்(Kāliḥpiḷavar).
- Kannada –ಹೂಕೋಸು (Hūkōsu).
- Telugu – కాలీఫ్లవర్(Kālīphlavar).
- Hindi – गोभी(gobhee).
- Bangla – ফুলকপি(Phulakapi).
- Marathi – फुलकोबी(Phulakōbī).
- Punjabi – ਫੁੱਲਗੋਭੀ (Phulagōbhī).
Cauliflower Varieties / Cauliflower Cultivars
Pant Shubhra is an early growing variety. The heads or curds are compact, slightly conical shape, and half white in color. The crop can be harvested in November. Farmer can expect an yield of 20 tonnes per hectare.
Pusa Snowball-1 is a late maturing variety. The heads or curds are medium sized, very compact and snow white in color. This cultivar is susceptible to black rot. The crop can be harvested from January to April. Farmer can expect a yield of 25 to 30 tonnes per hectare.
Dania Kalimpong variety is commonly grown in eastern parts of India. It’s a late season variety with medium to large sized compact white curds. This cultivar is little tolerant to environment fluctuations and is ready to harvest from January to April. A farmer can expect a yield of 25 to 30 tonnes per hectare.
Punjab Giant is a main season variety. The curds or heads are solid, white and medium sized. The crop will be ready for harvesting from November to December. Farmer can expect a yield of 17 tonnes per hectare.
Exotic varities: These are some exotic cauliflower varieties mostly grown in USA such as Candid charm, Concert, Cumberland, Fremont, Violet Queen, Ravella, and Mariposa.
Climate and Soil requirement for Cauliflower growing
Climatic conditions are important in growing cauliflower. Cauliflower grows well usually in cold seasons; curds are produced at optimum temperature conditions. The current hybrid cultivars are tolerant to temperature and can grow well in tropical climate regions. The optimum temperature for the plant to grow well can be from 18° to 22° C, while the hybrid ones can withstand temperature up to 35° C. It is observed in high or low temperatures the plant tends to produce small curds causing yellowing and raciness of the curd.
Cauliflower can be grown on wide range of soils. For a good produce and healthy growth, soils which are rich in humus, organic compost, well drained and soil that can hold moisture are preferred. Soil pH must be in 6.0 to 7.0 ranges. Soils that have high pH or acidic have magnesium deficiency and cauliflower needs high magnesium for its growing. Cauliflower is sensitive to grow in boron and molybdenum deficiency soils. It is recommended to avoid growing cauliflower in high pH or acidic soils.
Land preparation in Cauliflower growing
Land must be prepared to fine tilth by three to four deep ploughing. Cauliflower plants need lots of nutrients for its growing, mix farm yard manure or compost to a depth of 15 to 20 cm in the last plough. After mixing the land with organic manure, fumigate the field two to three weeks before planting cauliflower seedlingsto control nematodes and club root disease. Fumigation means sterilization of the soil bed by treating with formalin. Treating with formalin prevents seeds and seedling from fungus attack.
Raised beds are the alternative method to the conventional field farming. The fine tilth soil is prepared to raise beds and form ridges and furrows. Beds are prepared at 120 to 150 cm wide and 100 feet long or depending on the field size and length. Raised beds improve soil drainage and crops are grown without soil compaction. One foot wide aisle is prepared between beds for foot traffic.
Propagation in Cauliflower growing
Cauliflower can be propagated by direct seeding. For commercial growing are recommended transplants be raised in greenhouse or nursery seedbed and transferred to field after few weeks.
Seed rate and Season in Cabbage growing
To grow cauliflower in a hectare field usually 350 to 400 grams of seed is required.
Seed treatment in Cauliflower growing
Seeds must be treated in 50° C hot water for about 25 to 30 minutes. 250 grams of hybrid cauliflower seeds are treated with 25 grams of Azospirillum for early seed germination.
Sowing and Spacing in Cauliflower growing
For cauliflower growing each cauliflower seed is sown in portrays per cell. The seeds are covered with compost or coco peat and the ready portrays are covered with polythene sheet till the seeds germinate. Portrays are arranged on the raised beds in the nursery after 5 days of seed germination. Cauliflower seedlings are ready for transplanting to the main field after 25 days.
The seedlings are transplanted and planted at optimum spacing in the main field. Each cauliflower plant must draw adequate nutrients as it grows and spacing between plants differs on the type of cultivar. Usually they are planted in single rows with 40 to 50 cm apart for early crop and for late crops the spacing must be 60 to 70 cm apart. The rows are 80 to 95 cm apart.
Irrigation in Cauliflower growing
For high quality and yield, steady growth of cauliflower plants are necessary and proper watering is critical for successful production. The field requires about 20 to 30 mm of steady supply of water every week. Field irrigation can be done by sprinkler, flood and drip irrigation. Over irrigation leads to root decay and root rot. Adequate soil moisture must be maintained during head development period. For good cauliflower production, drip irrigation is recommended.
Manures and Fertilizers in Cauliflower growing
Fertilizer requirement depends accurately by undertaking a soil test. 15 to 20 tonnes of good old farm yard manure or compost must be incorporated in the last ploughing before planting is done. An amount of 160 to 180 kilogram of Nitrogen is required per hectare. 50 to 90 kilogram per hectare of Phosphorous is applied in soils less than 50ppm and 170 to 300 kilogram per hectare in lands of lower phosphorous. 125 kilogram per hectare of Potassium is required. Three doses of chemical fertilizers must be given in cauliflower growing. First dosage must be given before seedlings are transplanted as basal dose. Second dose must be given before curds initiation stage and the final dose at curd development stage. Along with micro nutrients such as magnesium, molybdenum, Epsom and dolomite lime must be incorporated. An adequate level of all nutrients will produce top quality and harvest yields in keeping with maximum profits.
Container Cauliflower growing
For kitchen garden cauliflower can be grown in containers. The size of container must be atleast 20 cms in depth and 35 to 40 cm wide. Fill the container with organic rich medium along with coco peat or compost which can hold moisture. Plant the young seedling in the center of the container.
Organic Cauliflower growing
Growing cauliflower in backyards or terrace or kitchen gardens organically is not easy and preferable as it many factors and optimal conditions are required for its growth.
Intercultural operations in Cauliflower growing
For healthy growth of cauliflower plants, efficient weed management must be done if not weeds compete for nutrients, water and effect growth and maturation of cauliflower. Weeds can be controlled either by cultural control methods such as transplant seedlings free of weeds or mechanical control methods such as mowing, plowing or hand pulling of weeds and chemical methods such as spraying of registered herbicides procured from nursery stores.
Pests and diseases in Cauliflower growing
Insects enjoy eating Cabbage plants as much as the farmer does. Care must be taken against insects & pests and diseases as they will rob the vegetable crop profits.
- Snails, Cabbage worms and maggots are the larvae of moths and butterflies. These pests cause serious damage as they chew the leaves. Young seedlings are destroyed. The only way to control them is 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.
- 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 invades 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 Cauliflower growing
Cauliflower is hand harvested when the curds are ready. Curds are harvested when they attain full size, compact and before they mature. Curds vary in sizes and colors depending on the cultivars. White, yellow, purple, or green while some varieties have curd sizes up to 30 cm. Harvcst curds that are good in shape, firm and medium sized as they have good market demand. It is recommended to harvest curds with its full foliage as the leaves will protect from physical damage and browning of the curd.
Yield in Cauliflower growing
Selection of Cauliflower cultivar, applying appropriate farming techniques and good crop management skills throughout the production season will allow farmersreap maximum profits.Early crops produce a yield of about 210 to 240 tonnes per hectare and late crops produce a yield of about 240 to 280tonnes per hectare.
Marketing of Cauliflower
Cauliflower can be marketed after reaching suitable market size and color. Usually 15 to 25 cm heads are the market demand. Cauliflowers are marketed directly in the local market or exported through marketing agency. Excess wrapper leaves are trimmed making a crown cut shape and are then covered in plastic wraps. For export the heads are wrapped, sealed with tape and packed in carton boxes. Heads are stored at 0° to 10° C with a relative humidity of at least 95%. Cauliflower heads can be stored from two to four weeks depending on storage conditions.
Problems and diagnosis in Cauliflower growing
- Head cracking and leaves growing through head can take place when nitrogen is excess in the soil. Right amount of fertilizers must be used as recommended by labs after lab test.
- Yellow or brown heads appear instead of white is because of sunburn or due to hot weather. Heads must be covered by tying outer leaves with twine.
- Poor heading and poor yielding of the crop takes place and possible causes are when plants are overcrowded, dry soil or root rot. Thin plants at an early stage and irrigate the fields properly to retain moisture and remove old plant debris.
Cauliflower growing tips
- Cauliflower grows well in cool climates with at least 6 hours sunlight.
- Soil must be rich in organic matter and high moisture retaining.
- Plant seeds indoors and later young seedlings are transplanted to containers, backyard gardens or main fields.
- Adequate watering and soil moisture must be maintained throughout the growing season.
- Mulch the planting area.
- Big leaves at lower layers are removed for better central whorl formation.