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Growing Cabbage from Seedlings

Growing Cabbage from Seedlings


Cabbage is a popular vegetable in South Africa because it is affordable, delicious, and nutritional. It is versatile and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. For the farmer, yield potential and easy plant establishment from seedlings are important considerations. More than 150 000 t of cabbage is consumed in the country every year. To this end, crowning the crop from cabbage seedlings makes economic sense.

Soil Requirements

Cabbage, like many other vegetables, prefers well-drained, loamy soil. However, the soil must also have good water-retention ability. Sandy loam soil also works, but in this case, the correct irrigation practices are important to minimise the risk of root stress because of a lack of water. It is best to grow the crop in soil that has a pH of between 5,4 and 6,6. The plant does not perform well in soil with a pH below 5 and the leaves tend to die off when the pH is 6,6 or higher.

Spacing Needs

The plugs should be transplanted to the field with a spacing of 300 mm between rows and 500 mm between plants in the case of medium-head cultivars. Up to 65 000 plants of this cultivar can be grown on a hectare. For the larger-head cultivar, spacing of 700 mm between rows and 400 mm between plants in the row is required.

Climate Requirements

It is best to grow cabbage in regions with cool and humid climates. Dry air tends to adversely affect head quality and taste. Summer-grown crops produce lower yields and it is more difficult to control pests. The crop is best farmed at temperatures between 17 and 21 °C. However, the plants can survive temperatures as low as -2 °C without suffering significant damage.

Growing Cabbage

When propagating cabbage from seedlings bought from nurseries that supply in bulk to farmers, the plants are ready to transplant by the time the farmer gets them. The plugs are already the right height and have been chemically treated before delivery to the farmer. The farmer doesn’t have to apply that first chemical treatment and thus saves money. The plants are protected against pests and diseases while at the nurseries, so the farmer receives strong and healthy plants.

This improves the likelihood of a successful crop. Further savings on initial soil preparation for trays, no plant losses related to weeding also apply. The farmer thus stands to save money when buying cabbage seedlings from the nursery. Buy cabbage seedlings from reputable commercial nurseries, as the condition and characteristics of the plants as received from the nurseries form the basis for crop success.

Yield Potential

Farmers can expect an average of 40 000 heads on a hectare, depending on the climate, soil type, spacing, and irrigation methods used. Yield potential increases when using uniform, pest- and disease-free cabbage seedlings. Of course, the cultivar chosen also plays a role. To this end, it is important to seek expert advice from the nurseries regarding suitable cultivars for particular regions.

Pest and Disease Controllability

As with all crops grown commercially, the farmer must apply the right nutrients, whilst paying close attention to controlling weeds. Herbicides and chemical treatments are required and best discussed with the nurseries from where the cabbage seedlings are obtained or with the Department of Agriculture. It is important to budget for such treatments.

Labour Requirements

Weeding, transplanting, and harvesting are labour-intensive. The farmer should budget for seasonal workers, as harvesting is usually done by hand. It is also imperative to harvest at the right time and this means having enough labourers on hand to ensure the harvested crop can be delivered to the market as quickly as possible.

Farmers interested in propagating the crop can order cabbage seedlings from Hishtil South Africa, delivering to farmers throughout South Africa.

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