Cauliflower is of European origin. Considered as the aristocrat of the cabbage family, it is grown for its white, tender head formed by the shortened and thickened parts of the flowers called curds. The curds are commonly utilized as salad, either alone or in combination with others and in the preparation of pickles. The young leaves are sometimes included in the preparation of vegetable stews.
F1 Hoggar – Heat resistant early maturing 55-65 days from transplant. Curd is white, medium round, weighing 8 to 1 kg. Dark green leaves with medium frame.
F1 Farwa – very rustic hybrid and large scale. Climatic adaptation: for November to February. Curd – deep white, round shape – closed cover. Other Tropical varieties include: Snow Ball Y, F1 Monte Pearle, F1 Blanca F1 Palma, and F1 Jana.
Soil and Climatic Requirements – Cauliflower is sensitive to high acidity. Where soil reaction ranges from pH 5.5 to 6.6 maximum yields could be obtained. It grows best in rich heavy loamy soils, although it thrives fairly well in light soils. Low and well-drained bottom lands give good results if climatic conditions are favorable.
Cauliflower requires a cool, moist growing season. It can not withstand either low temperatures, or too much heat, dry weather and low humidity. It succeeds better when the days are short.
Seed Requirements – About 200 to 300 g of seeds are enough to plant one hectare. The seedling are taken cared of in the same way as in cabbage, although greater care must be exercised by providing moderate rich soils and disinfecting the seedbeds or seed boxes. Although pricking is uncommon among growers, it is a must operation in cauliflower growing to produce uniform and stocky seedlings for field planting.
Land Preparation and Fertilization – The land should be well-prepared before the seedlings are set in the field. The field is plowed as many times as necessary, each followed by harrowing, until a fine filth is obtained. Cauliflower requires greater fertility than cabbage. It obtainable, large amounts of rotten manure may be use to advantage especially in light soils. With about 5 tons of manure per hectare, the application of about 100-45-45 kg. of N-P-K fertilizer mixture per hectare may prove beneficial. The application of 150-45-45 of N-P-K fertilizer mixture per hectare would give good results.
Transplanting and care of plants – Seedling, pricked or unpricked, are ready to be transplanted 35 to 45 days from sowing. The seedlings are set in double rows at intervals of 50 cm apart. Each double row is 100 cm apart. Newly-set seedlings should be watered and/or irrigated by flash system to prevent the occurrence of too many missing hills. As soon as the developing plants are about 15 cm. tall, they are topped dressed with nitrogen fertilizer at the rate of about 20 kg. of the pure element per hectare, after which the double rows are bedded either with the use of machines equipped with a ridge or with a plow. Bedding the double rows is advantageous in that the plants are provided with a soil mulch which curtails the growth of weeds, completely eliminates cultivation and facilitates irrigation by merely allowing the irrigation water to play in-between beds until the desired soil moisture is reached.
A perfect cauliflower head is pure white. This whiteness of curd can be obtained by blanching. While the heads are still small, the outer leaves are brought up over the head and fastened together with a bamboo toothpick for a period of two to three days. The outer leaves fastened together should be opened after three days as prolonged blanching may result in discoloration of the curd.
Harvesting, Curing and Storing
The curds should be harvested as soon as they reach the proper size and before discoloration begins. Since the curds mature rather fast and sometimes irregularly, harvesting should be done frequently and regularly. The head or curd should be cut with one or two circles of outer leaves to protect the curd from bruises and damage. The curds are packed with the outer leaves untrimmed.
Control of Pests and Diseases
A. Pests and their Control
The most common insect pest of cauliflower are cutworms (Spodoptera litura Fabr.) cauliflower worm (Crocidolomia binotalis Zeller), diamondback moth (Plutella Xylostella Linnaeus), and root grub (Leucopholis ittorata). For the control of cauliflower worms and diamond-back moth, spray the plants with any of the following:
- Foliafume 1 tbs. per gallon of water
- Sevin 1 tbs. per gallon of water
- Malathion 1 tbs. per gallon of water
Root grub can be controlled by treating the soil with Alder 2 at the rate of 1 tbs. in 1 gal. of water.
B. Diseases and their Control
Cauliflower, like any other vegetable, is subject to the attack of plant diseases. The most common diseases are club root, soft rot, bacterial leaf spot, downy mildew and root knot of vegetables. The first it can be controlled by sterilizing the soil with mercuric bichloride or formalin (1:1000) and/or lime application in the soil. Bacterial leaf spot and downy mildew may be greatly minimized by foliar sprays with copper fungicides at the rate of 3 to 5 tbsp.per 5 gallons of water at 7 to 10 day intervals.
Generally, crop rotation, use of well-drained soils, good management practices and avoiding heavy seeding in the seedbeds help prevent the occurrence of plant diseases.