Broccoli

The broccoli is a member of ‘Cole Crop group’ closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale and mustard. It is
botanical classified as a variety of Brassica oleracea species, grown during cool-season for its green flowering
head. The word broccoli comes from Italian word broccolo, which means ‘flowering crest of a cabbage”. Broccoli
has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branches sprouting from a
thick, edible stalk. Broccoli is a high-quality vegetable forfresh use and is one of the most popularfrozen vegetables.
Itis highly nutritious crop containing high amount of vitamins (Aand C) and minerals (K, P,Ca and Fe). Moreover,
it also contains thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Broccoli is the richest source of protein among cole crops. A high
intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of cancer (as it contains glucoraphanin compound) and also
prevents heart disease (Allen and Allen, 2007). India is the second largest producer of broccoli after China, while
the US ranks third. It is also used as a vegetable in many other countries such as Spain, Mexico, Italy, France,
United States, etc.
Origin and Distribution
Broccoli is native to Mediterranean region. Broccoli is a cultivar of wild
cabbage. Wild cabbage originated along the northern and western coasts of
the Mediterranean, where it was apparently domesticated thousands of years
ago (Schery, 1972; Heywood, 1978).
Family
The botanical family to which broccoli belongs is the ‘Brassicaceae’ (formerly
Cruciferae), also known as the ‘Mustard family or cabbage family’. The family contains species of great economic importance, providing much of the world’s winter vegetables. These include
cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, and kale, Chinese kale, etc.
Major Varieties
Broccoli varieties differ mainly in the shape and size of the head, time to maturation, side shoot production and
disease resistance. Likewise, other cool-season vegetables, broccoli has also ‘early and mid-season’ varieties.
Early varieties mature in 50-60 days, while mid-season varieties get matured in 60-75 days of transplanting. There
are three commonly grown types of broccoli i.e. Calabrese, sprouting and purple broccoli (Herbst, 2001).
Calabrese broccoli has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is also referred simply as ‘broccoli’
grown as cool season annual crop.
Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks, which are prepared in the same way as
asparagus.
Purple cauliflower has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not
always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds (Herbst, 2001).
The characteristics of some improved varieties are:
Punjab broccoli: Its leaves are smooth, wavy and dark green. The leaves as well as sprouts have slightly bluish
tinge. The sprouts are compact, attractive and succulent. The main sprouts are ready for harvest in about 65 days
after transplanting. Its average yield is 175 q ha-1.
Fiesta: It is a mid season broccoli variety. It produces dense, well-domed heads with thick stems on stout plants.
Has limited heat tolerance at maturity, but is ideal for late summer sowing for a fall/winter broccoli crop. Plant
on tighter spacing for single harvest–has limited side shoot production.
Palam Vichitra: It is a heading broccoli which is medium-sized and bears dark green leaves with purple tinge
stem. Heads are purple and compact, rich in vitamins and minerals. This variety is suitable for cultivation under
low hill conditions. Its average yield potential is 225 q ha-1
. Other varieties that are suitable for cultivation under
low hill conditions are Palam Haritika and Palam kanchan (Singh et al., 2014).
Pusa KTS 1: Medium-tall variety (65-70 cm), dark green waxy foliage with slightly wavy margins, heads are
solid, main head size and weight about 6.0-15.4 cm and 350-450 gm respectively, matures in 90-105 days after
transplanting.
Palam Samridhi: A HYV with large terminal head weighing about 300-400 gm each.
Gypsy: It is an early broccoli variety with a strong root system for good productivity in poor soil. It produces
nicely-domed green heads with medium to small bead size. This variety is tolerant to heat.
Arcadia: It produces uniform and purplish-green heads. Strong cold tolerance makes this variety is one of the
best types of broccoli for fall and winter production. Moreover, it is resistant to head rot and downy mildew.
Express: It is a mid-season variety produces uniform plants with deep blue-green heads.
Climate and Soil
Broccoli is a cool season vegetable thrives best in cool and moist climate. It is very much sensitive to very low and
high temperature. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 17 and 23 °C.
Temperature below optimum range delay maturity and led to small sprouts. Moreover, it cannot tolerate high
temperature as it produces poor quality sprouts (Anonymous, 2012; 2013). Broccoli grows best on a well-drained,
medium to heavy soil with high organic matter content. It requires moist soil for fast and proper growth. The
shoots become more fibrous under dry soil. It does well in pH range of 5.0 to 6.5.
Agronomic Practices
Land preparation
Prepare the land to a fine tilth by disc ploughing followed by one ortwo harrowing. Incorporate well decomposed
FYM @ 20 t ha-1 at the time of land preparation (Anonymous, 2012). Broccoli can be sown on ridges or on flat bed,

prefer sowing on ridges in case of heavy soils. Application of organic manure or vermicompost improves plant
growth, productivity and improves water holding capacity of field soil. The sterilization of soil by drenching,
nursery beds with formalin @ 1:49, about 15-20 days before seed sowing is beneficial for preventing the attack of
the fungal diseases. After drenching, seed beds should be covered with polythene for a week. Then beds are
again dug and left open for 5-6 days to avoid injurious effect of formalin on seeds.
The standard procedure for raising nursery should be followed. The beds should be covered with a proper
mulching material before watering. Apply water with a water cane over the grass mulch during initial stage
i.e.15-20 days of sowing, while during later stage watering should be done through furrows. The mulch should
be removed as soon the emergence of seed sprouts. The beds should be provided with roof for shading against
hot sunshine and rains.
Planting Season
The best time for sowing seed in nursery is mid August to mid September. Seedlings are ready to transplant in
field after month of sowing in nursery (Anonymous, 2012). In orderto avoid bolting and buttoning, it is advisable
to sow the nursery at right time.
Spacing
A spacing of 45 × 45 cm between row to row as well as plant to plant should be followed for the successful
cultivation of broccoli. However, planting distance vary according to the variety, climate and soil.
Seed Rate
A seed rate of 600-650 g is sufficient for the cultivation of broccoli in one hectare area.
Nutrient Management
Manure and fertilizer requirements in broccoli depend upon fertility status of the soil. So, a soil test is the most
accurate guide to fertilizer requirements. Good management practices are essential, if optimum fertilizer responses
are to be realized in the production of cole crops. Because of the influence of soil type, climatic conditions and
other cultural practices, crop responses from fertilizer may not always be accurately predicted. Soil test results
help determine the nutrients needed and the rate of application. Optimum fertilization is intended to produce
top quality and yields in keeping with maximum returns. Apply 20 tonnes well rotten FYM during field
preparation. Apart from application of manure, apply 100 kg N, 75 kg P2O5 and 50 kg K2O per hectare. The half
dose of N and full doses of P and K should be applied before transplanting. The remaining half dose of N should
be top dressed in two equal splits viz. after one month of transplanting and at the time head formation. For acid
soils low in Ca and Mg, application of ‘dolomite’ as lime should be followed.
Intercultural Operations
Shallow frequent hoeing should be done in broccoli field by ‘khurpi or hoe’ to kill young weeds and provide soil
mulch. Since, it is a shallow-rooted crop, hoeing should not be done beyond the depth of 5 – 6 cm to avoid injuries
to the roots. Weeding should be started as soon as plants are set in the field. Fourto five weeks after transplanting,
plants should be slightly earthen up in the field. For chemical weed control, Stomp 30 EC (Pendimethalin) 2.5
litre ha-1 can be applied one day before transplanting of seedlings under moist soil conditions.
Water Management
Broccoli needs sufficient moisture in the soil for uniform and continuous growth of plants. First irrigation should
be given just aftertransplanting. First irrigation should be light to avoid the loss of freshly transplanted seedlings.
Subsequent irrigation can be given at an interval of 7-8 days during summer and 10-15 days during winter
depending upon soil type and weather. There should be sufficient moisture in soil at the time of head formation.
The dry conditions adversely affect the quality and yield of shoots by being more fibrous. On the other hand,
water logging condition depresses plant growth.