About the crop
With the development of tropical varieties, cauliflower cultivation has spread to
the non traditional areas in South India including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The
high range regions of Kerala offers ample scope for the cultivation of cole crops,
which in turn would reduce the consumer dependence on supply from neighbouring states.
Climate & Soil
A temperature range of 15-21°C is considered as optimum for growth and curd
formation of cauliflower. Temperature below 10°C during growth delays maturity
resulting in the formation of undersized buttons, whereas high temperature will
result in yellowish leafy curds. Well drained sandy loam to clay loam soils rich
in organic matter with a pH range of 5.5-6.5 is considered as optimum for growing
Propagation & Planting
Pusa Early Synthetic, Himani, Swathi, Pusa Deepali, Early Patna, 74-6-C
Since it is a cool season crop, sowing is to be done from Aug-Nov. Seeds are to
be sown in raised nursery beds of size 3.0 m x 0.6 m and 10-15 cm height.
Seed rate is 600-750 g/ha. Prior to sowing seeds are treated with fungal culture
of Trichoderma viride (4 g/ kg of seed) or Thiram (3g/ kg of seed) to avoid
damage from damping off disease. Sow the seeds thinly in lines spaced at 5-7 cm
distance at a depth of 1-2 cm and the beds are to be covered with dry straw or grass
to maintain required temperature and moisture. Irrigate with a rose can daily. Three
to five week old seedlings are used for transplanting.
Apply FYM or compost @ 25 t/ha and fertilizers @ 150:100:125 N:P2O5:K2O
kg/ha. Apply full dose of P2O5 and half dose of N and K2O
before transplanting and remaining N and K one month after transplanting.
Adequate supply of moisture is required both during growing and curding phase to
ensure even growth and proper development of curds. First irrigation is given just
after transplanting of seedlings and subsequent irrigations are given at an interval
of 8-10 days depending upon the season and soil conditions.
Keep the field free from weeds by 2-3 hand weedings. Also carry out 1-2 very shallow
hoeing without injuring the roots to remove the weeds and also to loosen the soil
for better aeration.
In order to produce large sized curds, earth up the plant one month after transplanting.
At the time of earthing up the plants are supported with soil to avoid toppling
of the plant during head formation.
Cauliflower curds exposed to direct sun turn yellow and loose flavour. Blanching
is the operation protecting the curds from direct sunlight by covering them with
leaves. In some self blanching varieties the curd remains naturally protected and
surrounded by inner whorls of leaves.
Diamondback moth: Plutella xylostella
The caterpillars feed on the leaf epidermis and later make holes in the leaves.
Severely affected leaves are completely skeletonised. It is one of the most serious
pests of cauliflower grown under comparatively high temperature conditions.
Control: Spraying the crop with malathion (0.1%) gives excellent control of the
larvae. Trap cropping with mustard attracts the pest population towards it, which
can be destroyed by spraying dichlorvos (1ml/litre).
Stalk rot: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
Symptom starts as circular water-soaked areas, which becomes soft and watery as
the disease progresses. The fungus eventually colonizes the cabbage head and produces
large, black, seed like structures. This fungus can cause serious losses in the
field, in storage, and under transit and market conditions.
Control: Avoid planting cabbage and other susceptible crops in fields infested with
white mold. Mechanical injuries to flower heads during harvesting operations should
Black rot: Xanthomonas campestris
The infected tissue turns pale green yellow, which later becomes brown and dies.
Affected areas enlarge and severely affected leaves may drop off. The veins in infected
leaves, stems, and roots become black. The heads of the infected plants remain small
and its quality is reduced making it unfit for marketing.
Control: Avoid continuous cropping of crucifers in the same field. Use black rot
tolerant varieties. Treat the seeds with agrimycin-100 (100ppm) or streptocycline
(100ppm). Planting should be done on raised beds to facilitate drainage. Remove
and destroy affected plants.
Cauliflower is ready for harvest at 90-120 days after planting. The curds should
be harvested promptly when they are of full size but still compact, white and smooth.
Delayed harvesting results in the curds turning loose, leafy and ricey. The curds
are to be harvested by bending and cutting off the stalk well below the curd with
a sharp cutting knife. Harvest with great care and do not remove the curd by snapping
or twisting as it causes damage to the curd. Several harvesting will be necessary
in the field, as all the curd do not mature uniformly at the same time. Harvested
produce should always be stored in shade before packing. Average yield obtained
from early varieties is 6-10 t/ha. Mid season varieties, yield 12-20 t/ha while
the yield of late types is 20-30 t/ha.