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Cauliflower Seedlings

Commercial Propagation of Cauliflower from Seedlings in South Africa

Cauliflower is a vegetable of the Brassicaceae family and an annual crop. The head, which is the white curd part of the plant, is harvested. The plant comes from the wild cabbage, which was found originally only in Asia Minor. It is a member of the same family of vegetables as cabbage, broccoli, and mustard. Farmers grow cauliflower only from seedlings as available from nurseries supplying in bulk for commercial farming purposes. Temperature Requirements

Though many varieties today can be propagated in warmer temperatures, cauliflower is traditionally a cooler-season vegetable. The best temperature range for optimal growth is between 17 and 21 °C during the day, though it is possible to propagate crops from cauliflower seedlings in temperatures of up to 29 °C. Successful propagation has even been reported in regions where temperatures reach up to 40 °C during the day. However, the plants tend to have smaller jacket leaves and relatively small curds when grown in higher temperatures. The plant curds also suffer damage when freezing temperatures are experienced.

Soil Preferences and Location

Cauliflower seedlings can be transplanted to soils ranging from loam soil to clay and sandy loam. They prefer soils that hold moisture well during the summer. During the winter, it is best to plant in soil that dries quickly after rain. The plant has a moderate saline sensitivity. Propagation of the crop is done in most parts of South Africa.

Soil Preparation

Before transplanting the seedlings, the farmer should have a soil analysis done. The plant requires fertile but well-drained soil that can hold water. The soil’s pH must between 5,9 and 7,1. Hard soil must be ripped and compost incorporated into the plant holes up to a depth of 20 cm. Root-knot nematode poses a high risk for cauliflower seedlings. It is thus recommended to treat the soil for the pathogen before transplanting the seedlings. In fact, it is best to treat them about 21 days before transplanting is done.

Cultivation

The soil must be weed-free and irrigated by the time the seedlings arrive. Depending on the cultivar, it may be necessary to hand-tie the leaves around the growth point once the flower buds form. This is done to prevent the curd from turning yellow because of sun exposure. If the cultivar forms a leaf curtain around the flower bud, the farmer does not have to tie the leaves. Some cultivars’ leaves do not have to be hand-tied because the curds never yellow, even when exposed to considerable sunlight. To this end, it is important to enquire from the supplier which cultivars are available and how to propagate the specific cultivar.

Importance of Fertiliser

The plant requires a lot of nutrition and it is therefore imperative to ensure that there are enough nutrients in the soil. Phosphorus must be applied according to the results of the soil analysis. Potassium can be applied, but nitrogen should not be applied during the autumn season.

Weed and Pest Control

It is important to have a weed-control system in place during the first month after transplanting the cauliflower seedlings and this should include hand weeding. Typical weeds posing a risk are prickly lettuce, London rocket, and common groundsel, though other weed types can be found in cauliflower fields. Whiteflies, worms, and aphids are pests that pose the most risk to the success of cauliflower crops.

View the Hishtil South Africa product range and call for more information about the availability and types of cauliflower seedlings.

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