Cultivation of Cauliflower

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Introduction

Cauliflower is one of the most important winter vegetables of India. India produces 4.694 M mt of Cauliflower per year from 0.256 M ha area with an average productivity of about 18.3 mt/ha. In West Bengal, the area under cauliflower is 57,000 ha with total production of 1.670 M mt and average productivity of 29.3 mt/ha. The major cauliflower producing states are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, Haryana and Maharashtra. Advance technology for cauliflowers cultivation is use of Hybrid seeds and drip irrigation. In the plains, it is available from September to May. It is consumed as a vegetable in curries, soups and pickles.

Crop varieties

The cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis) plant belongs to the family Cruciferae. Its varieties are very responsive to temperature and photoperiod. It is therefore, very important to sow the appropriate variety at right time. Early varieties if sown late produce “button” head and late varieties if sown early will go on giving leafy growth and will produce curds very late. Pusa Katki and Pusa Deepali are early varieties whereas Pusa Subhra, Pant Subhra are cultivated as mid-season varieties. The late varieties are Dania, Pusa Snow-ball and Indam 19.

Conventional practices

The conventional method of cultivation is practised with locally available varieties and surface flood method of irrigation without proper fertilizers and plant protection measures.

Suitable agro climatic conditions

Cauliflower produces the best curds in a cool and slightly moist climate. The optimum monthly average temperature is in the range of 15 to 200 C, with the average maximum and minimum temperature of 250 C and 80 C respectively. The early varieties require higher temperatures and longer day lengths.

Suitable soils

When other conditions are favourable, cauliflower can be grown on any good soil, but a fairly deep loamy soil is most desirable. It is sensitive to high acidity. The optimum soil pH for maximum production is 5.5-.6.

Preparation of land

The field should be once ploughed deep (20-25 cm) with soil turning plough. Thereafter, 2 to 3 cross-harrowing or 4 to 5 times ploughing with the deshi plough should be done. One or two plankings are also needed to make the surface smooth and level. 

Soil sterilization

The sterilization of the soil can be achieved by both physical and chemical means. Physical control measures include treatments with steam and solar energy. Chemical control methods include treatments with herbicides and fumigants. Soil sterilization can also be achieved by using transparent plastic mulch film, which is termed as soil solarization. During soil solarization, the incoming solar radiation penetrates the transparent plastic film and is absorbed in the soil. The absorbed radiation converts into heat energy, which raises the soil temperature and kills many soil-borne organisms including plant pathogens and pests.

Planting

The seeds of Cauliflower are sown in raised nursery-beds of sterilized soil. For early season crop the seeds should be treated with some mercurial fungicide to save the young seedlings from damping off. The sowing of seeds is done in May-June for early season, July-August for midseason and September-October for late season varieties. The seed rate is 600 to 750 g/ha for early varieties and 375 to 400 g/ha for late varieties. Polyhouse may be utilized to provide favourable climate for germination of seeds and protection of seedlings from adverse weather condition. Four to six weeks old seedlings are transplanted in the field. A row to row and plant to plant spacing of 45 cm is kept for the early varieties. However, for the late varieties, the row to row spacing is increased to 60 cm

Drip system requirement

Area : 1 ha, Planting geometry: 60cm x 45cm

Variable items : 75 mm F PVC/HDPE pipe-54 m, 75 mm F PVC/HDPE pipe-102 m, 12 mm F LLDPE Lateral-8400 m, Online drippers (2 l/h)- 7437 Nos., Control valve-2 Nos., Flush valve-2 Nos., Tees/bends -1 No., Accessories.

Fixed items : Screen filter (15m3/ h)-1 No., Bypass assembly-1 No., Fertilizer applicator-1 No., Accessories.

Irrigation scheduling

Cauliflower is a shallow-rooted crop. Its roots are confined to 45 to 60 cm soil depth. Drip irrigation is the most suitable irrigation method for uniform head size and high quality produce. The estimated daily irrigation water requirement is 2.96 l/d/4plants at early stage and 5.41 l/d/4plants at the development stage.

Advantages of drip irrigation

Saves water by 35 to 40 %

Enhances plant growth, and increases yield by 45 to 50 %

Efficient and economic use of fertilizers results better quality of heads of cauliflower

Increases water use efficiency

Reduces weed growth

Reduces salt concentration in the root zone

Application of fertilizers

25 tonnes of FYM along with N, P, K fertilizers @ 60 kg N, 80 kg P2O5, and 40 kg K2O per hectare should be applied before transplanting of cauliflower seedlings. Fertigation of nitrogen through drip in 4 to 5 split doses produces better yield.

Weed control

Frequent shallow hoeing is generally practised for the control of weeds. Black plastic mulch is another effective method to control weeds, because it prevents light and restricts favorable conditions for the growth and germination of weeds.

Plant protection

The control measures for insects, pests and diseases depend upon type and intensity of the problems. The control measures for the main pests and diseases are described below.

Cabbage Maggot : It attacks on the young rootlets and main root and causes wilting of plants. Application of suspension of Calomelis has been recommended as a control measure.

Damping off : It is a common disease in the nursery-beds of the early cauliflower. It is controlled by soil solarization using transparent plastic film or drenching the nursery beds with fungicide 3 to 4 weeks before sowing of seeds.

Downy Mildew : It is characterized by the appearance of purplish-brown spots on the lower side of the leaves. The causal organism is an obligate parasite, which is present in the soil. Sanitation and crop rotation help in reducing the infection of Downy mildew.

Harvesting, yield and quality control

Cauliflower is harvested when its curds attain a proper size and before they begin to discolour. The yield of cauliflower varies from 20 to 40 t/ha in early season to about 50 t/ha during mid season. The yield can be further enhanced using precision method of irrigation, nutrient application and plant protection.

Post harvest handling and storage

Cauliflower with leaves attached can be stored for 30 days at 00 C temperature and 85 to 90 per cent relative humidity.

Cost economics

Area: 1 ha, Planting geometry: 60 cm x 45 cm

Fixed cost of drip system: Rs. 89,986

Rate of interest: 10.5%

Life of system: 7.5 years

Annual cost of drip system: Rs. 12,939

Cost of cultivation: Rs. 11,500

Expected yield: 25 t/ha

xpected Benefit-Cost ratio: 2.5

CONTACT ADDRESS

Dr. K. N. Tiwari

Professor & Principal Investigator 

Precision Farming Development Centre

Agricultural & Food Engineering Department

IIT Kharagpur (W.B.) 721 302

Tel: 03222-283150 (O)/ 283151 (R)

Fax: 03222-282244 / 255303 (O) 

Email: kamlesh@agfe.iitkgp.ernet.in, pfdc_kharagpur@yahoo.com

 

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