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Monday, 01 March 2021 05:51

Broccoli Production Guide

Written by Prime Seedco
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General

Broccoli is a vegetable rich in vitamin C, protein, fiber and flavor. It is also known as a “Super Food”. Broccoli belongs to the “Brassica – Genus” closely related to Cabbage, Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower. Broccoli types are, Large headed varieties, Sprouting varieties and Romanesco varieties. Large headed are the standard type with heads weighing from 400grams up 850 grams.

Sprouting broccoli like Purple Sprouting and Green sprouting broccoli produces numerous heads on long stalks and Romanesco varieties produce elegantly swirled heads composed of

symmetrically pointed spirals. These large plants need plenty of growing space.

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The Broccoli is grown during the cool weather conditions of winter. During the hot, wet conditions of summer the head sizes tend to be smaller. Consult a Seed Co Agronomist on which are the best varieties for winter and summer production. Broccoli is easier to grow than its relatives Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and can produce bountiful crops. Broccoli is always in high

demand on the dinner table.

 

Site Selection

Broccoli grows very well in medium to medium heavy clay loam soils with good water holding capacity. It can be grown however in more sandier soils but will require more frequent irrigations

and higher fertilizer rates. PH levels should be form 5.8 – 6.5 as broccoli likes to have an alkaline soil. Broccoli responds very well to compost and organic enriched soils. Levels round 25 – 35 tons per hectare of well- prepared compost or farmyard manure will benefit the crop and help reduce the levels of costly fertilizers. Make sure compost and manure are well broken down when put in the fields or root burn may occur. Chicken litter can also be used at 2 – 5 tons per hectare but must be well composted. If ploughing, plough to a depth of 30 – 35cm which will make sure that the soil is prepared for good root development, but make sure any old plough pan is broken up. If ripping, then discing is preferred to prepare a fine tilth. The soil should not be too cloddy, also not to fine. During winter months, if possible, plant on North facing slopes to achieve better soil warmth.

 

Spacing

If planting on beds which are at 1.5m center to center the in row should be 30cm apart and two rows placed on the bed 50 – 60cm apart. This should give approximately 44,000 plants per hectare. Planting on the flat, rows can be 40cm apart and in row of 35cm apart. Higher plant populations give smaller heads so populations should be governed by market requirements.

 

Fertilizer

Broccoli can be susceptible to hollow stem problems caused by a Boron deficiency. If there is a Boron deficiency in the soil, apply Solubor as a foliar spray every 2 weeks at a rate of 10grams/ 1 liter of water. A balanced Basal type fertilizer of either “A” “B” or “C” should be applied before planting. A vicon spreader can be used to broadcast the fertilizer on the flat or a ridger type applicator to apply the fertilizer if the crop is to be grown on beds. Cupping with fertilizer cups by hand into the pre-marked planting holes can also be done but the fertilizer must be well mixed in the hole with the soil to prevent root burn.

 

Based on soil analysis results, the rates of fertilizer can be adjusted to the rate to be applied and if compost or manure have been applied the rate can also be reduced. Fertilizer rates of 500kg – 750kg per hectare can be applied. Broccoli requires around 400kg per hectare of A.N. split into 3 applications from 3 weeks up to 6 weeks after transplanting. If the crop is being planted on sandier soils and during the rainy season, extra top dressings might be required after heavy leaching rains. Plantings going into mid-winter should be top dressed with Calcium Nitrate, instead of A.N. as it works quicker in cool soils.

 

Seedlings

Planting with seedlings is the most practical method. Use a recognized nursery where strong and healthy seedlings are produced. Transplanting good seedlings this gives a base for a more uniform crop, which reduces costs at harvest time. Order around 10% more seedlings for your selected plant population from the nursery to ensure best seedling selection when transplanting.

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When using seedlings or speedlings as they are most commonly known, at transplanting make sure that good plug to soil contact is made so the root system can leave the plug and quickly enter the soil enriched with either fertilizer or compost. Plant the speedlings as soon as possible after collecting them from the nursery to avoid the tiny hair roots from drying out. Plant the plugs/speedlings into pre-irrigated soils in which the field has been brought up to field capacity. After transplanting a light settling-in irrigation is required to remove tiny air pockets between the plug and the soil.

 

Varieties

Selection of a variety depends if it is to be marketed as fresh or frozen. Broccoli is usually a cool weather crop but can be grown year-round with correct variety selection, this is where your Seed

Co Agronomist can advise. Seed Co has a range of well adapted broccoli hybrid varieties including Cigno F1, Formoso F1, Montop F1 and a summer variety called Corato F1.

 

Broccoli is quite frost tolerant. There are two types, heading and sprouting. Sometimes selected varieties might produce side shoots once the main head has been harvested. Variety selection

will also have maturity dates varying from 60 – 75 days.

 

Harvesting

Time of harvest is primarily determined by the tightness of the florets and not by the size of the head. The head should be firm and compact, not opening and loose. If leafy points have come

through the head before harvesting it shows harvesting is late, or the plant has been under stress. This is more common in hot summer weather conditions when head size is generally

smaller than in winter production. When harvesting cut the central stalk at a 45-degree angle, 13 – 20cm below the head. This will keep water from pooling inside the cut stem and causing rot.

 

Broccoli has a poor shelf life at ambient temperatures so the harvested heads will require cold storage or to be delivered to the fresh market in the shortest possible time. Brown or Purple

beads is a physiological problem that is more prevalent under hot humid conditions.

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Irrigation

Regular water applications during the dry winter months is essential. Overhead irrigation or center pivot irrigation is the most common followed by flood and more recently drip irrigation,

which is becoming more affordable. Broccoli like cauliflower, the irrigations must be spot on or “Hollow stem” will occur due to fluctuations of water levels in the soil. Approximately 600mm –

750mm of irrigation should be allowed to produce a quality Broccoli crop. Therefore, planning water usage from dams, rivers and boreholes can be worked out to match hectares to be

planted. As the plant increases in size and leaf area, and the head starts to form, the amount of water required also increases. Irrigation should be planned on a weekly basis and the soil

depletion area checked regularly to plan for the next irrigation cycle. A quick test is to take a fist full of soil in your hand, squeeze it to form a ball then tap the “ball” with your finger, if it collapses

it is becoming dry and irrigation should be applied immediately. Preferably it should not have gone as far as this stage. The use of an evaporation pan should help with scheduling.

 

Rotations

In rotation planning do not follow with Broccoli if the previous crop has been a Brassica type i.e. Cabbage, Cauliflower or Rape. Always rotate with a legume or root crop.

 

- Prime Seedco

 

https://bit.ly/MagFeb21

 

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Read 717 times Last modified on Monday, 01 March 2021 06:25

 

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