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Tips for farming Cauliflower Seedlings

Tips for Cauliflower Farming from Seedlings in South Africa  

Commercial farming of cauliflower from seedlings can be profitable, provided the farmer does so with due consideration of factors such as soil conditions, irrigation requirements, the distance from the market, and more. A brief introduction to growing of cauliflower from seedlings is provided below, in addition to a short discussion about factors that affect crop success.

Most Common Way of Growing

Most farmers in South Africa propagate the crop from cauliflower seedlings as available from large commercial nurseries. The plants are delivered to farmers when they are ready to be transplanted. Transplanting is usually done by hand, though some of the major commercial farmers do use mechanised planting methods.

Nitrogen and Soil Requirements

The vegetable requires sufficient levels of nitrogen to promote cover growth to protect the underlying curd. Cauliflower seedlings should be transplanted to well-prepared soil. It is essential to perform soil and water analyses before commencing with a fertiliser-treatment plan. The pH of the soil should be kept between 6,4 and 7,1. This can be done through the application of lime. The vegetable performs best in rich and well-drained soil that is able to retain moisture.

Spacing Needs

It is recommended to transplant the cauliflower seedlings to the field with a spacing of about 60 to 102 cm between rows and 50 cm between plants in the rows. Using this spacing, it is possible to get up 30 000 plants on one hectare. If the tramline spacing method is used, the plants can be planted closer to each other.

Best Irrigation Practices

Farmers should ensure that the soil is moist before transplanting the seedlings, though over-irrigation should be avoided, as this can lead to the leaching of nutrients.

Yield Expectation

Depending on the weather, irrigation, soil, spacing, cultivar, and harvest practice, the farmer can get yields of anything between 12 and 25 tonnes of cauliflower per hectare.

Harvesting Practices

Hand harvesting is most common. The curd is harvested, leaving the head leaves in place to protect the head. Some commercial farmers use conveyor machines to deliver the curds to the packing and storage areas. Harvesting is thus labour-intensive, which is a factor to consider when calculating profit potential, so it is essential to buy good-quality cauliflower seedlings to ensure uniform stand for easier harvesting. Once they have been harvested, the curds should be stored in a cool place. Careful handling is needed to prevent head damage that can lead to early decay. The curds can be stored at temperatures of between 1 and 5 °C and a humidity of at least 95% for short periods. For longer storage, the temperature should not exceed 2 °C, with a humidity level of at least 95%. Early-morning harvesting is best to ensure that the curds can be delivered to their place of storage before it becomes too hot.

Stress Sensitivity

This vegetable is vulnerable to stress and even slight stress as the result of a short period of being exposed to high temperatures or a lack of nitrogen or water can severely affect the quality and quantity of the yield. Symptoms include a light-brown colour of the head, pink curd, shallow head, or hair-like appearance.

Crop Rotation

It is important to follow the correct crop-rotation practices to ensure ongoing success with commercial vegetable farming. It also helps with weed control. It is recommended to plant the vegetable only every four years because the crop is nitrogen-intensive.

Where to Buy

Order pest- and disease-free cauliflower seedlings from Hishtil South Africa.

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