Growing Cauliflower, a High-Value Crop

Cauliflower is a cool-season vegetable from the cabbage family. It is closely related to broccoli and is known for fighting certain types of cancer. This vegetable is often used in stews and local favorites such as stir fry dishes.

Growing Cauliflower

Moist, humus type soil is important in growing cauliflower as this vegetable tend to have weak root systems. Continuous rapid growth is essential to produce quality heads, therefore fertilizers must be applied to ensure maximum yield. A quarter to half a cup of complete fertilizer may be applied into the soil below the plant.
Soil ph of 5.5 to 6.5 is essential for best development of cauliflower.

Approximately 200 grams to 300 grams of seeds are necessary to plant one hectare. The seeds require the same care as that of cabbage and broccoli, however greater care must be provided by disinfecting seed beds and providing rich moist soil. Pricking should also be done to produce uniform and stocky seedlings for field planting.

Cauliflower may be grown by direct seeding or transplanting method. Seeds must be sowed one-half inch deep in clumps of approximately four seeds, 24 inches apart and 30 inches between rows. Gradually thin to the best single plant. Crops should be fertilized regularly. One hectare may require five tons of manure for land preparation. 100-45-45 kilos of N-P-K fertilizer may be applied.

Seedlings are ready for transplanting 35 to 45 days after sowing. Newly transplanted  seedlings require watering or irrigation. When plants are 15 cm tall, nitrogen fertilizer may be applied. Seedlings may be set in two rows 50cm apart. The double rows may be 100 cm apart. These double rows may be bedded with the use of machines equipped with a plow. This is essential as the soil mulch prevents weed growth, and aids irrigation.

Cauliflower may grow best in loamy soil but can thrive in light soils. When planted in lowlands, proper drainage can aid in achieving good yield. Cauliflower may not withstand extremely high or low temperatures, dry weather and low humidity.

Cauliflower is affected by the same pests that affect broccoli and may be treated the same way. Label instructions must be followed accordingly and local agricultural experts may be consulted for further assistance.

Common Diseases

Common diseases that affect cauliflower are alternaria leaf spot and downy mildew. Alternaria leaf spot is characterized by black or brown specks with concentric rings on the lower leaves. The leaves eventually turn yellow and drop. This disease is caused by the fungus Alternaria brassicae. Curds may be affected even if this disease mainly affects the leaves. This disease may be airborne and can be transmitted by splashing water, equipment and people. Warm moist conditions aid in the propagation of this disease.

Downy mildew is a disease that can affect both seedlings and mature plants. This disease is characterized by tiny yellow specks on the upper surface in the initial stages that eventually turn brown. White downy mold may appear on the underside of the leaf. Downy mildew may cause vascular discoloration and can cause soft rot on the plant.

Harvest and Storage

Cauliflower is harvested by hand and by use of a sharp knife. Harvest should be done when the head is approximately six inches in diameter when the curds are compact and white and the leaves are lush, healthy and green. Cauliflower should be cut at the base of the head when harvesting.

Undesirable heads that are deformed and defective are to be removed.

Leaves that are spreading should be removed and leaves that wrap around the head are to be trimmed two inches above the head to protect the curds. The head should be cleaned before storage and transport. Heads may be covered in perforated plastic but proper handling and a well ventilated storage should be provided. Cauliflower is highly perishable and should not be stored for long periods of time. High temperature can cause rapid deterioration and shelf life.

Return on Investment

Production costs of cauliflower include land preparation costs, labor costs, and cost of equipment, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. A hectare may yield approximately 12 to 18 thousand kilos of cauliflower.

The demand for cauliflower is constantly rising, in reference to the Department of Agriculture’s projected outputs for 2007 (12.65 metric tons) to 2009 (12.90 metric tons).

For more information (including plant and planting materials) please contact:

The Executive Director
PCARRD, Los Bahos 4030, Laguna
Tel. Nos. (049) 536-0014 to 20
Fax No. (049) 536-0016/536-7922
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.pcarrd.dost.gov.ph

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