Cabbage also is known as Brassica oleracea var. capitata is a popular temperate and small green-leafy or purple vegetable. The leafy vegetable is also called a biennial plant or as a rabi crop but in certain areas, it is grown as a Kharif crop too.
Cabbages are rich in vitamins C and A and are also filled with minerals such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. Cabbage can be consumed in cooked or raw form depending on the individual. The external appearance of the crop displays a compact mass of smooth leaves wrapped around each other and the structure is referred to as the head of the vegetable.
The leaves on the exterior are large in size than the inner ones. The stem of the plant is stout and short and the flowers of the plant appear in the winter season. Thus, cabbage is a cool-weather crop.
Before initiating cabbage farming, it is essential to understand the basics of cabbage cultivation and the environment necessary for the entire process. Starting to grow cabbage in the late or mid-summer so that it can be harvested in the winter, early spring, or in the autumn season.
The seeds of the crop should be planted indoors approximately 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost and the crop should be ¼ inch deep during the sowing process. The transplants of the crop can be transferred to the outdoor garden once they are around 7-10 cm (3-4 inches) tall and the seedlings are hardened.
The sowing process of the plant can be started as soon as the soil is easy to work on in the spring season. The regions with mild winters can start the seeding process during the late summer so that the crop can be harvested in spring or winter.
Perfect Environment to Grow Cabbage
How long does cabbage take to grow
Weather and soil are the dominating factors in the proper outcomes of the cabbage. Cabbages are regarded as adaptive in nature when it comes to soils as well as climate. Cabbage quickly depletes the nutrients present in the soil and thus the plant is considered as the heavy feeder.
Organic constituent rich and well-drained soil is ideal for growing cabbage. Heavy to sandy soils rich in nutrients is preferred for cabbage cultivation. The planting bed/soil should be prepared well in advance by combining the aged manure or compost. The well-drained soil aids in inhibiting the rotting of the head that stands in the water.
Light soil is used for early crops whereas late crops require heavy soils to store moisture. Growing the plant on the heavy soil helps in growing the plant slowly thus maintaining the quality. The soil used for cabbage farming should have a pH level in the range of 5.5-6.5. The pH of the soil shouldn’t cross 6.5 and it shouldn’t fall below 4.5 as it can damage the petals of the cabbage plant.
The cabbage plant is prone to various diseases when grown in saline soils. Thus, it is crucial to determine the pH to get the best results in the cabbage planting. Furthermore, crop rotation is practiced to avoid soil-borne diseases and infections to the plant.
The cabbage plant in the Indian subcontinent is grown in moist and cool climatic conditions. The optimum temperature ranges from 15°-21°C for the perfect growth of the head of the cabbage. The flowering intensity of the plant is influenced by the duration of its exposure to low temperatures and the age of the plant.
Popular Varieties of Cabbage
There are different types of cabbages with varied sizes, colours, and shapes. The varieties in green cabbages are Golden Acre, Round-Up, Blue Boy, Green Boy, Badger Ban Head, Market Prize, Blue Ribbon, Flat Dutch, Jersey Wakefield, and Stonehead. Red cabbage varieties are Ruby Perfection, Red ball, Red Acre, and Red Ribbon. Savoy cabbage varieties available are Savoy King and Savoy Ace.
The other varieties available are PusaMukta, Hariana, Bajrang, September Early, Pusa Drum Head, Pride of India, K-1, Pusa Synthetic, Late Large Drum Head, ShriganeshGol, Copenhagen Market, Early Drum Head, Kaveri, and Midseason Market.
Stages of Cabbage Growth
The complete growth of cabbage is divided into 9 stages – Cotyledon (first leaf), Seedling, 6-8 true leaf, 9-12 true leaf, Precupping, Cupping, Early head formation, Head fill, and Mature stage. The seedling goes through these stages to turn into a mature plant.
Cabbage Watering Requirement
Watering the cabbage plant too is an important ingredient necessary in the developmental stage of the plant. The cabbage plant need a continuous moisture supply. Drip system can be installed for better water retaining. Plant bolting occurs in the dry environment and thus prevents from drying. A cabbage plant requires 11/2-inch rain/week and if the environmental condition is not favourable, external watering should be done to keep the plant hydrated.
Around 10 litre water is required for meter square of the land and thus hose and jugs are used. It is essential to be careful while watering the root levels and upper levels. Roots help in retaining the soil moisture and upper levels aids in keeping diseases and pests at bay.
The leaves that have turned yellow should be removed as they can cause a further infestation in the plants. Mushy soil is not a suitable environment for cabbage like other vegetables. If for any unknown reason the soil is dry, the soil has to be dug 3 inches down and then water it. If the moisture level transfers from the upper layer, the plant can be harvested in better shape.
Spacing and Planting Cabbage
Cabbage farming is easy but to understand the correct planting procedure helps in good yield. The distance of planting relies on soil conditions, variety, and planting season. The seedlings are planted in 4-5 levels. The seedlings of cabbage are sowed 0.5-inch-deep and spaced 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart.
Thin plants on the other hand are 45-61 cm (18-24 inches) apart from each other. When there are 4-5 true leaves and are 4-6 weeks old, cabbage can be transplanted to the garden. Cooked stem plants should be planted deep. Seedlings are spaced 45-61 cm (18-24 inches) away from each other and are placed in rows which are apart at 61-91 cm (24-36 inches).
The plants can also be placed near to each other but the size of the mature heads would be smaller. Based on the maturity levels, the following distances are recommended:
Early maturity: 60×30 cm or 45×45 cm
Mid-level maturity: 60×45 cm
Late maturity: 60×60 cm or 75x60cm
A garden fabric set or black plastic can be used to plant cabbage in the early spring season. An x is cut in the fabric or plastic to set the cabbage transplant. Cabbage crop can be planted in succession with the time interval of every 2 weeks so the plant can be harvested at varied times of the season.
Morning or late evening is preferred time for transplanting process. The roots of the seedlings are dipped in Bavistin solution (2 gram/litre of solution) before transplantation. After the process of transplantation, irrigation is immediately carried out. Some countries irrigate the beds first and then the seedlings are transplanted to the bed.
The cabbage is a versatile vegetable yet at the same time, it can’t suffer drying out. In the colder time of year season the interim irrigation methodology is used which takes 8-10 days. In any case, in the dry season the method must be constant.
A restricted water quantity ought to be present in furrows in order to re-hydrate the crops during dry climatic conditions. During the rainy season, a remarkable drainage technique needs to be made to deal with the situation. Areas with less rainfall should implement drizzle irrigation to cope up with the water scarcity in the plantation method.
Fertilizers and Manures
The dose of fertilizer depends on the quantity of organic manure used in the crop and the soil fertility. Approximately 4 weeks before transplanting, 15-20 tonnes of FYM is integrated into the soil for better yield. In general, for optimum yield 60-100 kg P2O5, 60-120 kg K2O, and 80-120 kg N is recommended. At the time of transplantation, entire quantity of K and P is given and half dose of N is applied. The remaining N is applied after 6 weeks from transplantation.
Apart from these fertilizers, decomposed cow dung 40 tonnes/ acre, Muriate of Potash 40kg/acre, Single Superphosphate 155kg/acre, and Urea 110kg/acre is applied. Also, look for magnesium or boron deficiency in the plant and accordingly perform soil testing.
Companions of Cabbage
Cabbage can be grown together with onions, fragrant herbs, beet roots, potatoes, sage, thyme, cucumber, dill, spinach, kale, artichoke, lettuce, and celery provide additional benefits to the cabbage plant. Try to avoid growing tomatoes, pole beans, cauliflower,and strawberries as they require the same nutrients and thus can’t be grown together.
Harvesting and Yielding
when do you harvest cabbage / cabbage harvest time?
It takes 90-120 days for the plant to get harvested. The ideal time for harvesting the cabbage is when the head portion is mature and hard and stable. The delay in harvest even for few days after it is matured can cause incidences of disease and split heads of the plant.
The harvesting of heads that are immature results in reduced yield as the heads are not yet mature and are easily prone to damage due to the delicate nature. The life of immature heads is shorter than the mature heads.
The harvesting of head is done by tilting the head on one side and then gradually cutting it with a sharp knife. The stalk of the plant has to be cut in flat form and incision should be done close to the head but stalk has to be long to preserve 2-4 wrapper leaves. The wrapper leaves or extra leaves behave as cushions that helps in protecting cabbages while handling. Certain markets desire the extra leaves for consumption or decoration purposes.
The head of the plant has to be handled carefully and should not be twisted or snapped while removing as it can cause head damage and the length of the stalk becomes inconsistent. The breakage in the stalks causes faster decay.
Depending on the maturity of the heads, the harvest is carried out as different heads require different time for maturity and thus differs in harvest time. Before packing, the harvested produce should be stored in shade conditions. The sorting and grading process is followed after harvesting and it depends on the head size.
The yielding process depends on various factors such as cultivation season, variety, and maturity group. The early varieties have an average yield of 25-30 t/ha and the late level varieties yield is 40-60 t/ha.
Common Diseases and Pests
The growth of the plant attracts various types of pests and diseases. These pests and diseases impact the plant externally as well as internally. The entire system of the plant from roots to leaf is damaged by the catastrophic elements. For instance, it can damage the essence, weight, growth rate, color, and many other things.
The pests infecting the crops are Cutworms, American Bollworms, Flea Beetles, Aphids, Cabbage worms, Nematodes, Cabbage rot maggots, Bagrada Bug, Diamond Back Moth (DBM), and Cabbage loopers.
The diseases that infect the produce are Wire Stem, White Blister, Downy Mildew, Club-root, Target spot/Leaf spot/ Ringspot, White Mould, Blackleg (Dry Rot Canker), Powdery Mildew, White leaf spot, and Dumping off. Most of the diseases are caused by Botrytis and Sclerotinia.
To control these diseases and pests, chemicals like insecticidal soaps, Spinosad, Carbaryl, Permethrin, and Neem oil extracts is used. However, not all the pests and diseases can be controlled and thus a proper consultation with agricultural institute might provide solutions.
Preserving and Storing Cabbage
Cabbage can stay for 1-2 weeks or may be longer in a refrigerator. The seeds of cabbage can be sprouted. Cabbage can also be dried and frozen. It can also be cured in brine to make processed cabbage known as Sauerkraut.
Cabbage farming can yield profits if best practices are implemented at every stage of the process and proper hydration is provided to the plant.