Broccoli is currently the highest-valued vegetable in the Cordillera. This is mainly because broccoli has been reported to help in fighting cancer. Approximately 283 hectares of the Cordillera is being used for growing this vegetable.
Broccoli was introduced in the industry and to Filipino taste buds just in the recent 20th century. Broccoli belongs to the family that includes cabbage, petchay, and cauliflower.
The broccoli’s flowerettes are green compared to the cauliflower’s white flowerettes. A diverse variety of broccoli has been grown in the Philippines. Recommended varieties with ideal harvest and production are De Ciccio, Tenjiku, Emperor, Prominence, Royal Green and Landcaster.
Areas with low irrigation capacity should plant broccoli in seedbeds with the width of sixty to one hundred twenty cm. As for areas with ample irrigation facilities, broccoli may be planted in a sunken bed to ensure that the crop is receiving enough moisture.
Broccoli has two methods of planting: direct seeding and transplanting. Direct seeding for broccoli in low altitude areas is ideally done between September and November. For high altitude place such as the Mt. Province, direct seeding may be done at any time of the year.
Using direct seeding may be done by spreading 1.4 kilos of seeds on five seedbeds, each measuring 1 meter by 10 meters.
When using the transplanting method, seeds are planted in a seedbed or seedling box and left to grow. Broccoli seedlings must be sturdy and healthy before transplanting. They should be provided with enough sunshine. All this is necessary to provide its tissues with the carbohydrates broccoli needs in order to grow new roots. Frequency of watering should also be lessened.
Transplanting should be done in the afternoon or during low temperature weather. It is important to ensure that the plant has ample roots before transplanting. Immediately water the plant after transplanting. Broccoli is ideally transplanted within approximately four weeks after planting for best yields.
Whichever method is used for planting broccoli, this vegetable requires the space of thirty to forty cm between crops in a row, with each row seventy cm apart.
Fertilizer application on the soil is important while growing broccoli to ensure good quality harvest and rapid growth. It is recommended to maintain the soil acidity level at pH 7.0. The soil’s acidity level may be increased when needed by using nitrate fertilizer on the soil. Soil containing low potassium and phosphorus levels may be administered with 300 to 500 kilos of 16-16-16 complete fertilizer per hectare, 300 kilos of calcium nitrate and 100 kilos of nitrate of potash per hectare may be used to provide sufficient nitrogen and potassium. If the soil has ample potassium but insufficient phosphorus, then it is recommended to administer 500 to 1000 kilos of ammonium phosphate to the soil.
Weeds should be removed regularly. During high temperature weather, frequent watering may be necessary. Watering may only be lessened during low temperature level or during the rainy season.
Pest and Disease Control
Proper control should be practiced on the onset of diseases. Control should be made at the appearance of symptoms. However, when symptoms have become unrestrained, experts should be consulted on how to prevent spread of the disease to crops that have not yet been infected and also to help prevent re-occurrence of the disease.
Most plant diseases affecting broccoli are caused by fungi. While on the other hand, pests plaguing broccoli plants include cabbage moth, diamond-back moth, cabbage butterfly, flea beetle, aphids and cutworms.
Pesticides like Dipel, Xentari, Thurcide, Backi and Bacto may help control these pests. It is important to follow instructions on the label on these pesticides. Affected leaves should also be removed.
Common diseases affecting broccoli include downy mildew, cercospora leaf spot, blackleg, black rot, and alternaria blight.
Alternaria Leaf Blight. This disease is caused by the fungus Alternaria cucumerina. Alternaria leaf blight or alternaria leaf spot is characterized by yellow specks which eventually turn black. It may be controlled by crop rotation. Regular removal of weeds also aids in preventing occurrence of this disease.