CULTIVATION STRATEGY FOR
Broccoli, also called broccoli, belongs to the cruciferous plant family, like cabbage or cauliflower. The flower heads and stems are the plant parts that we consume from these plants.
Broccoli is considered one of the vegetables with the highest nutritional value. It is high in fibre and has antioxidant, purifying, immunological and cancer-preventive benefits.
» Broccoli planting
When it comes to sowing broccoli seedlings in the field, there are two main periods to choose from.
- Spring: so that the broccoli is ready for harvesting in early summer.
- Autumn: harvesting takes place during the winter.
In many cases, the ideal period for planting broccoli outdoors is during autumn.
Broccoli can grow in a wide variety of soils, but prefers fluffy (not excessively), fertilised, cool, well-drained soils with regular moisture, avoiding waterlogging. Furthermore, although they grow best in acidic soils, they are better adapted to neutral soils and do not tolerate chalky soils.
In soils that are too acidic, a disease called “cabbage hernia” may develop, which causes a thickening of the roots and the plant does not develop properly.
Broccoli, typical of Mediterranean areas, is a winter vegetable. It needs a certain amount of cold, so it is usually grown in autumn-winter. Its optimum development temperature is between 10 and 20oC.
It is important that the time of inflorescence formation does not coincide with very hot months or with heavy frosts.
·Orientation on the plot
Farmers mostly plant broccoli in single rows. The distances and the number of plants depend on the broccoli variety and the size of the broccoli plants to be grown, as well as the environmental conditions.
In addition, it should be noted that when planting the seedlings in the soil, it is crucial to plant them at the same depth as they were in the seedbed.
» Care requirements for broccoli
Given the date of planting (spring or autumn, depending on the variety chosen), broccoli is initially sown in seedbeds for 45-55 days. During this stage, watering is frequent.
Once the plants have germinated and grown sufficiently, they are transplanted into the garden for good.
·Soil conditioning for broccoli cultivation
Several weeks before transplanting, soil preparation work begins. Rocks and other unwanted materials are removed and ploughed. Ploughing improves soil aeration and drainage.
A week before planting, organic matter, mainly manure, is applied and the necessary ridges are formed. Furthermore, it should be noted that the most recommended pre-crops for broccoli are potatoes, onions, tomatoes, melons, maize, etc. and that rotations with other cruciferous vegetables such as radishes, cabbages, turnips, etc. should be avoided.
In relation to water supply, broccoli requires constant humidity throughout its cycle. Watering should be frequent and abundant, without waterlogging the soil.
When the inflorescences are forming, it is not advisable to sprinkle water on them, as this could cause rot and fungus. Drip irrigation is the most recommended option. In addition, in order to improve its organoleptic characteristics, irrigation is reduced when the flowering part is about to ripen.
·Broccoli weed management
During the first stage of broccoli development it is very important to eliminate weeds, as they compete with the young plants for space, light, water and nutrients. However, when the plant has grown sufficiently, weeds are not a major problem.
» Fertilisers for broccoli cultivation
As for fertilisation, broccoli is considered a demanding crop, especially with nitrogen and potassium, so decomposed compost should be applied. In addition, the final size of the broccoli and the number of flower heads will be greatly influenced by the presence of this organic matter in the soil. It can be applied as:
- Bottom fertilisation: when we prepare the soil to receive the plants.
- By paddingaround the stem.
These plants also require doses of boron and in soils where magnesium is scarce, it is advisable to add this element.
If what we want is an organic broccoli crop, the fertilisers we will apply will be made up of organic matter only, such as manure, hummus, compost, etc.
» Broccoli harvesting
Broccoli can generally be harvested 60-90 days after transplanting, depending on the variety.
This vegetable is harvested when the heads reach the size appropriate to their variety. They must also be compact and uniformly green in colour.
First, the central main head is harvested. The lateral heads normally mature later. After harvesting the central head, it is recommended to cover it with some compost to encourage the formation of more shoots (two or three secondary shoots can be taken out).
It is important to note that a delay in harvesting may result in quality losses, as the heads may loosen and turn yellow.