Cultivation of Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea)
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.
The edible portion of cauliflower in the site curd like mass composed of a close aggregation of abortive flower developed on thick bunches of the inflorescence. This edible portion is called ‘Curd’ surrounded by leaves which are longer but narrower than those of cabbage. According to the season of the growth, all types are divided into:
a) Early season types and
b) Late season types.
Late cauliflower types are grown for a longer period, have a larger plant and the leaves bend over the heads naturally and branch the curd while early cauliflower needs to have the leaves tied near maturity to branch.
Proper climatic conditions are almost essential according to the variety of the cauliflower. Cauliflower thrives best in a cool and moist climate. Cauliflower withstands so low temperature or so much heat as cabbage does. Dry weather and low humidity are not suited from it. For good seed germination, temperature of 50 to 70 0 F is required. High temperatures produces poor quality curds viz Ricey, leafy, fuzzy, loose and yellow curds. Temperature below the optimum during growing period delays maturity and undersized, small unmarketable heads or buttons may be formed. Dry hot weather may give rise to small hard heads.
Soil and its Preparation:
It can be grown on a wide range of sold provided they are rich in nutrients and have adequate soil moisture, possess a good drainage and also contain plenty of organic matter. Sandy loam soil are preferred for early crops, while loam and clay loams for late crops. Cauliflower grows best on a neutral to slightly acid soils i.e. at PH 6.0 to 7.0. If the soil is below PH 5.5 liming at the rate of 5 to 10 quintal per ha should be done for successful raising of cauliflower. Higher PH than 7.0 decrease the availability of boron. The soil must be thoroughly prepared to make it loose and friable, and retentive of moisture. Basic organic manures should be applied during the field preparation. It requires better prepared soil than cabbage. That is why it has been humorously referred to as ‘a cabbage with a college education.’ 1 to 2 corrosive ploughing by a soil turning plough followed by 3 to 4 ploughing with desi plough are enough for it.
Seed rate and Time of Sowing:
The seed are sown in nursery bed in May- June for early, July – August for mid season (main crop) and September – October for late varieties. In cauliflower seed rate fro early crop is 600 to 750 gm and for late crop 400 to 500 gm /Ha
Layout and Spacing:
Ridges and furrow type of layout is used for crop. Before that seedlings are prepared in nursery bed (Raised bed) and transplanted in main filed after 3 – 4 weeks. Spacing for early crop is 45 X 45 cm and late crop it is 60X 60 cm.
Cultivars or Varieties:
In cauliflower various varieties are grown. They are season bound. Therefore, almost care should be taken while sowing the seeds. There are early mid season and late varieties, according to maturity in particular season.
Varieties suitable to be grown in rainy season (June – July) are Pusa Katki, Early Kunwari. The curds are available in September- October. Aghani matures in Nov, Possi in December and maghi in January. Early cultivars produce short plant. The leaves are bluish green and produces small to medium and loose curd. Pusa Deepali is also early and curds mature in November. Curds are white. Pusa synthetic is another variety suitable for planting in September and curds are available in December – January.
The late cultivator is snow ball which can be planted in October – November and curds are available in February- March. The curds are white, compact and therefore yield is more. They also fetch more prose in the market for all these varieties optimum temperature ranges for curd initiation and development varieties.
Manures and Fertilizer:
For best result 15 to 20 tons of FYM or compost should be incorporated into the soil about 4 weeks before transplanting. In cauliflower 100 kg N, 50 kg P2O5 /ha, should be given.
It may be given to the crop every 5 – 6 days to the early planting and 10- 15 days for late crop.
At the time of head formation, there should be enough moisture in the field, so irrigate at this time and when cauliflower is raised late in the season, it should be watered closely.
Shallow frequent cultivation should be given in the cauliflower field by khurpi or hoe to kill young weeds and provide soil mulch. Avoid deep cultivation, for it may destroy the plant roots located top 3 to 6 mater in the soil. Weeding should be started as soon as plants are set in the field. Four to five weeks after transplanting, the plants should be slightly earthen up in the field.
Cauliflower should be harvested when the head has developed the proper size and is at right stage of maturity. The head should be compact but it should not be broken into segments. The plant is cut off well below the head so that the stub has left the head from damaging during transporting to the market. The plants are cut as and when curds are well developed. As curds do not develop uniformly, so only those which are full developed are removed but not over matured ones after inspecting the whole filed each second or third day. Harvesting the filed during morning or evening so that the produce may be kept cool for the market.
In case of early cauliflower crop 200 to 250 quintal / ha yield is obtained. While in case of later crop it is 250 to 300 quintal / ha.