Cauliflower is one of the most popular Cole crop grown in the area. The pre-floral fleshy apical meristem modifies itself into a curd. This is the eatable part and is white in colour and is enclosed by inner leaves. Curd colour varies from white, cream-white, yellow, green or red. Research studies for the organic cultivation of cauliflower by CRT have resulted in standardization of practices in the cultivation of Cauliflower.

Season:

Temperature affects vegetative growth and is critical to curding and reproductive stages of crop growth. Optimum temperature for growth of young plant is around 230 C and around 17-20 0 C in later stages. If temperature increases, vegetative growth continues and if temperature lowers it forms small curds. Day length and temperature influence transformation from vegetative to curding and curd development stage. For optimum curd development plants have to pass the juvenile phase and attain certain growth. Fluctuating temperatures at curd development cause many disorders. Growth can be classified as vegetative phase, curd initiation phase and curd development phase.

Soil:

Cauliflower grows on sandy loam to clay loams. Soil prerequisite is that it should b well drained and rich in organic matter. A soil pH of 5.5-6.5 is optimum.

Varieties:

The varieties commonly grown in Hosur area are:
* N-531
* N-555
* Hema
* Disha

Stage I - Land preparation

Raise seedlings in nursery beds or plastic trays. Treat seeds with asafoetida @ 5mg/L of water and then sow in well composted nursery beds or trays.
 
Raise nursery beds 0.8 m wide, 15 cm high and of convenient length. Add about 50 kg good quality compost with about 1 kg neem cake which has been previously soaked in 2 litres of water, and 100 gms of Trichoderma.
 
Alternatively fill seedling trays with coir pith compost mixture (110 Kg) + Pseudomonas ( 1 Kg) + neem cake (5 kg) + azotobacter (1 Kg) + 1 kg each of PSB and KM. Moisten and set aside for about 3 days. Then fill trays with this mixture and then place seeds on it.
 
After sowing drench with 3 % Trichoderma/ Pseudomonas solution
 
Repeat spray at 15 day to prevent post emergence damping off.
 
Water seedlings regularly both before and after germination as water stress checks growth. Withhold watering 2-4 days before transplanting to harden seedlings
 
Prepare ridges and furrows in main field along with the recommended manures dose. Where drip facilities are present adopt double row planting. Follow a spacing of 45X45 cm, 30X60 cm or 45x 60 cm.

Stage II - Seeds and sowing

Season- Aug-September- October
 
Seed rate: 200-500g/Ha. About 1 gm seed gives about 100 seedlings. Seedlings are ready for transplanting in 4-6 weeks from sowing.
 
Seed treatment: Treat seeds first with Trichoderma 4gm/Kg of seeds the night before planting and dry in shade.
 
Sowing : Next morning coat the treated seeds with bio-fertilizer slurry (Azotobacter 200 gm+200 gm Phospho bacteria+200 gm K mobiliser) before planting.
 
Sow the seeds on the nursery bed by following line-sowing method or in seedling trays as stated above.
 
Seedlings having 4-5 leaves/3-6 week old seedlings are ready for transplanting.Seeds are sown in 200-300 Sq m nursery beds @ of 1-2 g
 
seeds per sq. m

Stage III - Manuring

Apply a basal dose of 10 tons of Compost+100 Kg neem cake+300 kg Bokashi+1 kg Trichoderma or Pseudomonas. Mix bio fertilizer - Azospirillium (250 ml)+PSB (250 ml)+ KM (250 ml) to the compost (350 kg) with 3 Kg of VAM and add 1 kg of Trichoderma.
 
To the irrigation water add EM @ 1L in 250 Litres of water. Give EM water twice a week in the drip water. Add bio fertilizer - Azospirillium (250 ml) + Phosphorous solubilising bacteria (250 ml) + potash mobiliser (250 ml) to the irrigation water twice a week. Give EM and the bio-fertiliser mix on separate days.
 
At about 20 days after transplanting give a 3 % spray with Panchakavya, or EM or Amrit Pani as this ensures better yields.

Stage IV - Irrigation

Irrigate immediately after transplanting and at an interval of 7-15 days. Ensure adequate and optimum watering and avoid moisture stress at growth and during curding phase to ensure growth and proper development of curd.

Stage V - Weeding

One/ two weeding with earthing up at second weeding is sufficient for the crop. Prevent formation of soil crust on surface. Do earthing up regularly and prevent exposure of the shallow roots.

Stage VI - Plant protection (Disease and insect control, Spray schedule)

Sl. Name of the Pest Damage Biological control
1 Diamond black moth(Plutella xylostela) Larvae damage leaves by feeding underside near veins. This leads to leaves having windows or holes on them.
  • Use of natural enemies like Cotesia plutella and Diadegma semiclausum that can be released repeatedly and allowed to establish. They are larval parasites of DBM.
  • Use of NSKE sprays @ 3-5ml per litre of water are also effective against DBM at weekly interval.
  • Trap cropping with Mustard & Marigold. One row of mustard for every 15 rows of cauliflower
  • Spray BT var kurstaki @ 200 ml per litre per Ha at 12-15 day interval based on pest population levels
2 AphidsMyzus persicae, Hyadaphis erysimi and Brevicoryne brassicae Leaves get crinkled, curled or cup shaped. The plant can be infested at any growth stage. In severe conditions, the entire plant may wilt. Aphids also produce honey dew on which sooty mold grows
  • Use of Natural enemies like Parasitic wasps, and coccinellid predators namely ladybird larvae and lacewing larvae to keep the aphid population in control. 
  • Spray Metarhizium/ Verticillium @ 3-5gm/litre to kill aphids.
  • 5gm/litre to kill aphids.
  • Mulch crop area as Aphids are less attracted to mulched plantings.
  • Use of Neem extract @ 3% sprays
Bacterial Diseases
1 Curd rotErwinina carotovora Sclerotinia sclerotiorum Rotting takes place on any portion of the curd. Curds are rendered unmarketable leading to total loss
  • Spray with Pseudomonas or Trichoderma @ 5ml per liter of water.
  • Rotate crops
  • Give hot water seed treatment
  • Use disease-free seeds or use resistant cultivars
  • Remove and dispose infected plants. Burn infected plant tissues when possible.
  • Clean contaminated equipment
  • Avoid working when plants are wet
  • Mint extract
2 Black rot(Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris) Infection takes place form points of insect attack. Yellowing of tissue leads to cholorosis forming V shaped lesions with the base towards the midrib. The veins and veinlets of cholorotic tissues show black discoloration which at later stages leads to rotting.
  • Rotate with non-cruciferous crops
  • Use resistant cultivars.
  • Avoid over wetting of fields
  • Treat seeds with tap water for 30 min followed by hot water at 520 C for 30 min. further treat with Azotobacter+ Psedomonas slurry and then sow.
  • Spray with Pseudomonas or Trichoderma @ 5ml per liter of water
3 Xanthomonas Leaf spot(Xanthomonas campestris pv. armoraciae) Leaf spotting and lesions on leaves, curd and cotyledons.
  • Do not work when wet.
  • Rotate with non-crucifer crop
  • Spray with Pseudomonas or Trichoderma @ 5ml per liter of water
Fungal Diseases
1 Stalk Rot Leaves loose turgidity during the day but recover at night. Affected plants become dull whitish-green and turn pale yellow. Dark brown to black soft rot and fluffy mycelia growth occur on petioles of lower leaves. Black to dark brown spots appears on stalks, which enlarge and girdle stem at ground level. The stalks are filled with fluffy mycelia and black sclerotia. Curds lose compactness followed by development of white rot.
  • Use of hot water sprays
  • Use of fungicidal compost teas.
  • Use neem+ginger/turmeric extract @ 3% spray to control disease.
  • Add VAM 2.5-3 g/l and drench in soil
  • Remove and destroy diseased debris.
  • Spray Pseudomonas 5ml/Litre for initiation of curd to maturity at weekly interval.
2 Downy MildewPeronospora parasitica Dark brown depressed lesions which turn into downy fungal growth are found on the stems. Purplish-brown spots appear on underside of leaves which are fully covered by downy growth at later stages. The heads are damaged leading to curd rot.
  • Use of fungicidal compost teas.
  • Spray Trichoderma or Pseudomonas @ 3-5g/l.
  • Add VAM 2.5-3 g/l and drench in soil.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and tilth of soil and avoid water logging in polyhouse or fields.
3 Damping offRhizoctonia solani Infection occurs at base of stem or at ground level. Tissues become water soaked leading to rotting and collapse of seedling. It occurs both at pre-emergence and post emergence stage. This is the main cause for mortality in seedlings.
  • Use of fungicidal compost teas as foliar sprays.
  • Spray Trichoderma or Psuedomonas @ 3-5g/l.
  • Add VAM 2.5-3 g/l and drench in soil.
  • Prepare raised beds and maintain appropriate tilth and avoid waterlogging,
 
Stage VII Harvesting & Yield:
 
Cauliflower is ready for harvesting when the curd is compact and reaches proper size and has retained its colour. Medium sized white compact curds fetch premium rates. It is better to harvest early than late as late harvesting leads to stalk elongation and loose leafy, ricey, fuzzy curds.
 
Yields of around 6-10 tons/acre can be obtained.

Stage VII: Precautions and Physiological Disorders

Precautions: Blanch heads by protecting curds from direct sunlight. Otherwise curds become yellow.Physiological DisordersRiceyness- Surface of curd is loose and has a velvety appearance due to elongation of pedicel and formation of small white flower buds at curding stage. Fluctuating and unfavorable temperature, high humidity or excessive N dosages lead to the above condition. Select appropriate cultivars fro planting and maintain proper Manuring levels to overcome this disorder. 
 
Fuzziness- this is due to the elongation of pedicels of velvety curds. 
 
Leafy Curds- Development of small green leaves inside the segments of curds makes them leafy. Temperature fluctuations or high temperatures at curd initiation cause this. 
 
Blindness: Damage to growing point by pests/low temperature causes blindness. Plants without terminal bud fail to form any curd. The leaves of blind plants become thicker and leathery. 
 
Chlorosis: Interveinal, yellow mottling of lower older leaves causes chlorosis. Magnesium deficiency is the main cause. 
 
Hollow stem: High levels of fertilization in rapidly growing plants develop hollow stem and curd. 
 
Browning: Water soaked, light brown to dark brown spots formed on stems and curds lead to browning. It can be corrected by addition of Boron. 
 
Whiptail: Caused by Molybdenum deficiency. Normal leaf blade development fails and strap leaves are formed. In extreme cases, only midrib develops, hence the name whiptail.

Authors:
Bindumathi Mohan
T.S. Srinivasan Centre For Rural Training
SIPCOT II, Bethalapalli
Hosur, Tamil Nadu 635109

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