Broccoli is a cool-season crop that, like spinach, can be grown in the spring or fall. In fact, you may be able to get a continual harvest throughout both seasons if you time planting correctly. A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is rich in vitamins.
It is most nutritious of the cole crops, especially in vitamins, iron and calcium content. It contains 3.3 percent protein and high content of vitamin A & C and appreciable quantity of thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. Several flavoring compounds are found in broccoli. The glucosinolate content of purple-headed broccoli has been found in the range of 72-212 mg/100g. It also contains a high concentration of caretenoids which are believed to be chemopreventive and associated with a decreased risk of human cancers. Broccoli may play a role in reducing levels of serum cholesterol. Besides, it is also a rich source of sulphoraphane (singrin) compound associated with reducing the risk of cancer. It is marketed as fresh, frozen and also used in salads.
Climate and soil requirement for growing Broccoli
It thrives best in a cool and moist climate. It cannot tolerate very high temperature as it produces poor quality sprouts. The optimum temperature to grow is between 17-230 C. Temperature below optimum during growing time delays maturity, and small sprouts may be formed.
It can be grown on a wide range of soils provided they are rich in nutrients, have adequate soil moisture and possess good drainage. The soil should contain plenty of organic matter. It must be thoroughly prepared so that it becomes loose, friable and retentive of moisture.
Improved varieties of Broccoli
Punjab Broccoli –1 (1996)
Leaves are smooth, wavy and dark green. Main as well as secondary sprouts are dark green. The leaves, as well as sprouts, have slightly bluish tinge. The sprouts are also compact, attractive and succulent. The main sprouts are ready for harvest in about 65 days after transplanting. This variety is suitable for both salad as well as cooking purposes. Its average yield is 70 q/ acre.
Agronomic Practices for broccoli cultivation
Sowing and Seed Rate
The best time for sowing seed in the nursery is mid-August to mid-September. When the seedlings are one month old, transplant them in the field. A seed rate of 250g is sufficient for one acre. To check bolting and buttoning sow the crop at a proper time. Transplant the seedlings in proper ‘Wattar’ and irrigate the field immediately after transplanting.
A spacing of 45 x 45 cm.should be followed between lines as well as plants.
Manures and Fertilizers for Broccoli
40 tons of farmyard manure with 50 kg of N (110 kg Urea), 25 kg. of P2O5 (155 kg. of Single Superphosphate) and 25 kg. of K2O (40 kg of Muriate of Potash) per acre make the optimum fertilizer dose. Apply whole of farmyard manure, P2O5 and K2O and ½ N before transplanting and remaining half N as top dressing one month after transplanting.
Weed Control and Irrigation: Use the herbicides as have been recommended for cauliflower. Its irrigation requirement is also similar to those of cauliflower.
Harvesting of Broccoli
As soon as sprouts are of a marketable size they should be harvested. They should be marketed as soon as possible because they cannot be stored for a long time. After harvesting the central sprout, axillary sprouts become ready for harvest again in about 10-12 days.
For seed production, the crop is grown just like the market crop. After formation of sprouts, the plants are left in situ for seed production. To produce genetically pure seed, the off-type plants must be removed thrice during vegetative phase, sprout formation stage and flowering stage. Isolation of 1600 meter should be kept between different cole crops and different varieties of broccoli. When pods turn brown, they should be harvested two or three times. After harvesting, they should be thrashed and cleaned.
- Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.
- The old Farmer’s Almanac.