Broccoli nowadays is a well-known vegetable globally. Broccoli cultivation is profitable. And the initial cost is comparatively low. Broccoli was an Italian vegetable. The United States is the world’s largest producer of broccoli. Most of the broccoli harvested in the United States is sold as fresh produce. Other major broccoli-producing countries are Poland, Italy, France, Spain.
Broccoli is a hardy vegetable of the cabbage family. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. They’re delicious raw in salads or lightly steamed and they freeze well.
Here are the Basic Steps to Start Broccoli Cultivation
Broccoli prefers full sun, but partial shade can prevent plants from bolting (going to seed) in areas with warm spells. Cool days and nights are essential once the flower heads start to form. There’s a wide range of days to maturity, so pick a cultivar that will mature before the weather in your area turns hot. Gardeners in most temperate areas can harvest both spring and fall crops.
2. Transplanting and Spacing
Transplant the seedlings at 4 – 5 true leaves stage about 25 to 30 days after seeding. Space them 40 – 45 cm apart in the double rows of 60 – 70 cm apart on each high bed of 90 – 100 cm wide. However, you must arrange proper watering for several hours before transplanting. It makes it easier to remove the plant from the seedling bed. Thus, the roots of seedling may hold as much soil as possible, so as to prevent wilting during transplanting. Finally, you must apply irrigation immediately after the transplanting.
Broccoli thrives best on the soil of good fertility. If you are unable to conduct a test, the recommended N-P-K application rates are 120-100- 100 pounds per acre broadcast or 35-50-50 pounds per acre banded at planting. Liming may also be necessary to maintain soil pH in the 5.8-6.6 range for optimal growth. Cruciferous crops such as broccoli require more boron than most other crops. Applying 3 pounds of boron per acre will eliminate broccoli stems that are brown and hollow.
Broccoli is a shallow-rooted crop. Therefore, you must apply irrigation frequently to prevent the plant from injuries in dry soil. In addition, you must arrange a proper drainage system in the rainy season. It is necessary to remove side shoots as soon as possible to improve the yield and quality of the main head.
5. Pest Control
Proper weed control is necessary. However, you can apply herbicides, mechanical control, and a good crop-rotation system. Many pretransplant and postemergence herbicides are available for broccoli. It depends on the specific weed problem and the broccoli growth stage. Insects are the major potential problem in broccoli production. Flea beetles, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworm, diamondback moths, and aphids all can cause crop losses.
Economic Importance of Broccoli Cultivation
You can sell broccoli as either a fresh or processed product. Although most growers produce it for the fresh market. However, processed broccoli is ideal for retail supermarket selling. Furthermore, broccoli processing includes canned packing and soup making.
Typically, broccoli grown for processing is produced under a contract between grower and processor. Therefore, the emergence of the value-added fresh sector is helping to expand markets for broccoli. Fresh-market production accounts for 95 percent of the U.S. crop.
The costs of the production of broccoli vary depending on the production location. Therefore, it is labor-intensive, especially for harvest and post-harvest handling and packaging.
Things To Consider Before Cultivating Broccoli
Broccoli is a cool-season plant. Therefore, it never tolerates temperature. It grows better in rich soil with added compost, humus, or aged manure worked into the soil. You have to mulch to maximize moisture retention as well as to prevent weed growth.
You will also need to arrange a proper irrigation system. The project cost calculation with the working capital cost is important. Additionally, have a proper marketing plan. Simply, where to sell your broccoli after harvest.
Health Benefits Of Broccoli
First of all, broccoli is a hearty and healthy vegetable. It has a lot of soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body. Broccoli even has significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. It is anti-inflammatory.
Furthermore, broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K. Both are important for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis. Finally, broccoli helps in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.
Best Varieties For Broccoli Cultivation
There is three popular variety for broccoli cultivation. The calabrese is the most familiar, with large green heads and thick stalks. Therefore, the suitable plantation time is spring.
Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. You can plant it in May and harvest it during the winter or early the following year.
Romanesco broccoli has numerous small cone-shaped heads arranged in spirals. And they are yellow-green in color. White and purple varieties are also available in some areas.
Popular varieties in the USA are Captain, Everest, Imperial, Emerald Pride, Gypsy, Pinnacle, Packman, Diplomat, Premium Crop, and Windsor. However, there are some hybrid varieties also.
Agroclimatic Condition For Broccoli Cultivation
Broccoli grows best in the cooler season and prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 F. (18-24 C.), so it’s a good rule of thumb when trying to figure out when to plant broccoli so that they grow mostly during these temperatures. When planting broccoli in the spring, allow plenty of time to harvest the broccoli before the weather becomes too hot.
Suitable Soil For Broccoli Cultivation
Broccoli prefers well-drained soil with a texture between sandy and clay loam. In addition, make sure the soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.5. It requires deep sandy loam or clay loam soil with is rich in organic matter and good drainage. However, it is best to rotate broccoli with other crops that are not crucifers.
Suggested Read: How To Take Soil Samples For Analysis?
Harvesting & Storage
Harvest before the florets start to open and turn yellow. Cut just below the point where the stems begin to separate. Once you’ve harvested the main head, tender side shoots will form in the leaf axils all along the lower stalk.
Keep cutting, and broccoli will keep producing until the weather turns too hot or too cold. Can, freeze, or pickle broccoli, or keep it refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. However, you must keep broccoli at 32°F and 95-100 percent relative humidity. Finally, you can get a yield of 3.5 quintals per acre of broccoli cultivation.
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