CAULIFLOWER PROFILE

INTRODUCTION

Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.

Family: Cruciferaceae.

Botany

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:

  1. a) Early season types and
  2. 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.

CLIMATE

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

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.

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.

FERTILIZERS

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.

IRRIGATIONS

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.

INTERCULTURE OPERATIONS

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.

HARVESTING

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.

YIELD

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.

DISEASES

Most of the diseases, which affect cauliflower, are similar to diseases of cabbage. However, some specific diseases of cauliflower are described below:

Stalk Rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib) De Bary)

Leaves when infected, turn light green and alter yellow and shed prematurely. Black soft rot later often appears on petioles and mid rib touching. The soil is covered with flubby growth of fungus. Stem on the ground levels show girdling. Cool (20-25oC) and 95-100 per cent conditions are ideal for disease initiation and spread (Sharma and Sharma, 1985).

Control Measures

Crop rotation is highly effective in decreasing disease incidence (Gupta et al. 1986). Application of benlate (0.02%) and MBC (0.02%) have found to be effective in reducing disease incidence (Sharma and Sharma, 1985).

INSECT PEST

All the insect-pests, which damage cabbage, are also harmful to cauliflower and fallow same control measures. Physiological Disorder- Cauliflower suffers from a number of physiological disorders, which manifest in different type of disease syndromes. Some physiological disorders depend mainly on hereditary factor, whereas, other are fluctuation occurring in temperature, air, water, humidity, organic and inorganic nutrition.

Important physiological disorders, affecting cauliflower are described below:

Riceyness

It manifests in the elongation on peduncle wearing flower buds, rendering curds, granular, loose and somewhat velvety. A premature initiation of floral bud is characterized by riceyness in cauliflower and is considered to be of poor quality for marketing. At IARI, New Delhi, it has been found that this disorder may result from any temperature higher or lower than the optimum required for particular cultivars. Riceyness mainly and harvesting has been delayed. If late variety planted early, riceyness develops due to the prevalent of high temperature, however, if can also appear at lower temperature. Hereditary factors have also been reported for riceyness. Heavy dose of nitrogen and high relative humidity also contributes to riceyness. It can be controlled by cultivation of genetically pure seed and appropriate varieties with recommended cultural practices.

Fuzziness

It appears as the flower pedicels of velvety curds elongate. The anomaly is both hereditary and non-hereditary. Cultivation of cauliflower, out of their normal season encourages fuzziness. Sowing good quality seed in right season under proper cultural practices, minimized fuzziness.

Leafiness

This disorder is commonly seen by formation of small thin leaves from the curd which reduces quality of curd. Extremely small green leaves appear in between the curd segment due to inheritable or non-heritable factors. Prevalence of high temperatures during curding phase aggravates leafiness. Certain varieties are more sensitive to leafiness or bracketing than other. It can be controlled by selection of varieties according to their adaptability.

Browning (Brown Rot or Red Rot)

It is caused by borne deficiency which is influenced by soil pH. The availability of boron decreases at neutral soil reaction. It is characterized by sign on the young leaves that become dark green and brittle. The old leaves puckered, chlorotic and often drops off. Sometimes, the downward curling of older leaves followed by development of blisters when boron deficiency is severe. The leaves remain small and the growing point may die. However, in later stage, water soaked, light brown to dark brown spots formed on the stem and branches may ultimately lead to the formation of cavities formed on the stem and branches may ultimately lead to the formation of cavities and a hollow stem. Curds may also show irregular water soaked spots. Which alter change to a rusty brown colour. The affected curds remain small and acquire a bitter taste. This may be controlled by application of borax or sodium borate or sodium tetra borate at the rate of 20 kg/ha a soil application. In case of acute deficiency, spray of 0.25 to 0.50 per cent solution of borax at the rate of 1 to 2 kg/ha depending upon growth, soil reaction and extent of deficiency.

Whiptail

Deficiency of molybdenum causes ‘whiptail’ syndrome, especially, in highly acidic soils. Because high manganese concentrations in such soils hinder the uptake of molybdenum which seldom occurs when the soil pH is 5.5 or higher. The young cauliflower plants become chlorotic and may turn white, particularly along the leaf margins. They also become cupped and wither. The leaves blades fail to develop properly, and the leaves are ruffled and distorted. In older plant, the lamina of the newly formed leaves are irregular in shape, frequently, consisting of only a large bare midribs and hence, the common name “whiptail”. It can be corrected by application of lime or dolomite limestone to raise the soil pH up to 6.5 or higher. Sodium or Ammonium molybdate at the rate of 1-2 kg/ha as soil application can also control “whiptail” of cauliflower.

Buttoning

Development of small curds with inadequate foliage in cauliflower is known as buttoning. It is also referred to as premature heading. The leaves are so small that can not cover the formed head.

Causes of buttoning are

  • Transplanting of more than 6 week-old seedlings. Generally, over aged seedlings when transplanted in the field take more time in establishment due to less developed root system. A poor development of root system is possible due to insufficient availability for nutrients and inadequate space for the development of root system due to crowding of seedlings, allowed for longer duration in the nursery beds. The growth rate of such over aged seedlings is usually slow. Not only this they could not put on optimum vegetative growth and start forming curds, which further could not grow into normal size and causes buttoning. Temperature below the optimum during growing period delays maturity.
  • Planting as early variety in late vice versa leads buttoning.
  • Hot and dry weather is unfavorable for vegetative growth of plants, but favourable for inducing curd formation and inhibits further enlargement. Curds remain very small in size like buttons.
  • When soil moisture becomes limiting factor, it checks the growth of the plants, which in turn, causes early formation of curds checks the growth of the plants, which in turn, causes early formation of curds without maintaining their further enlargement.
  • Transplanting of seedlings, obtained from poorly managed nursery bed. Such seedlings may not have high potential for their vegetative growth, which is almost important for the formation and enlargement of normal curds.
  • Slow plant growth in the nursery, over crowding, insufficient water, lack of weeding, bad condition of the soil, excessive crowding, insufficient water, lack of weeding, bad condition of the soil, excessive salt concentrations, low lying area or field with shallow and poor top salt may also cause buttoning.
  • Vigorously grown nursery plants with thickened stems and sessile foliage being already generative have a tendency of button formation in the field. The check in growth may be caused by root injury by insects or by some diseases (especially Rhizoctonia spp.).

It can be controlled by

  • Nursery should be properly look after to avoid any check in the plant growth.
  • An adequate amount of nitrogen and water should be applied.
  • Do not delay transplanting and (IV) Cultural practices should be carried out well in time and water logging and overcrowding should be avoided.

Blindness

It means the plant without terminal buds or when the growing point collapse at an early stage and the terminal buds fails to develop and plant becomes blind. It occurs in over wintered plants and any practice interfering in growth of the terminal bud may lead to blindness. Plant grows without terminal bud and fails to form and curd. It is characterized by the leaves that develop are large, dark green, thick and leathery owing to the accumulation of carbohydrates. Sometimes, the axillary bud develops but the plant fails to produce a marketable curd. The main cause of blindness are low temperature when plants are small and when damage occurs to the terminal bud during, handling of the plants or injury by insect-pests. It can be controlled by avoiding young plant from low temperature exposure and care seedlings. While planting and handling, seedlings are avoided damage from insect-pests.

Chlorosis

In cauliflower magnesium deficiency causes chlorosis when grown on highly acidic soils. Chlorosis shows on interveinal and yellow mottling of lower leaves. The affected leaves turn bronze in colour and become stiff. In severely deficient plants, abscission of the lower leaves occurs and results into small curd formation. It can be controlled by applying magnesium oxide @ 300 kg/ha, liming the soil with dolomite limestone to bring the soil pH to 6.5 are an effective control measure.Use of a fertilizer containing soluble magnesium, keeps it under control.

Hollow Stem

It may be due to boron deficiency and higher supply of nitrogen nutrition. Hollowness caused by boron may be identified by water soaked and discoloured tissue, whereas, hollowness caused by nitrogen, the stem is perfectively clear while with no sign of disintegration. It can be controlled by spraying of borax at 0.1 to 0.3 or soil application of borax @ 15-20 kg/ha. If hollow stem is used by boron deficiency. However, for normal type of hollowness, spacing the plants closer together or by reducing the fertilizer doses.

Frost Injury

In cauliflower, leaves of young seedling turn yellowish-white on both the surfaces. Petioles become flaccid and white, midrib along with adjacent parenchyma and stem may also be injured. Fully grown curds of cauliflower are more sensitive to frost damage, than the smaller ones. However, in cabbage the younger leaves are particularly sensitive to frost, as that the centre of the heads turns brown, while, outwardly the head appears healthy, similar symptoms also occurs in Brussels sprouts. It can be minimized by irrigating the field on anticipating the danger of frost and by raising the field temperature by creating smoke.

Pinking

Sometimes curds show pink tinge, this appears due to the exposure of curds to high light intensities. Under this condition, anthocyanin form and gives rise pink colour curds. This disorder is not so common