This time we are going to talk to you about a very special vegetable. It is not a love at first sight, but when we become familiar with it, we can become addicted. We’re talking about broccoli. Its multiple nutritional properties, rich in vitamins C, A, fiber, iron and potassium, make more and more Spaniards include this vegetable in their shopping cart. This explains why the production of broccoli has increased considerably in recent years. In fact, the number of hectares dedicated to broccoli is around 50,000 a year, with production remaining constant at around 600,000 tonnes a year. Murcia is the leader in this vegetable, accounting for 50% of national production.
Broccoli and its origins
The origin of broccoli or broccoli is located in countries with temperate climates around the eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East. The Anatolian Peninsula, Lebanon or Syria are the countries that cultivated the first specimens of this vegetable. During the time of the Roman Empire, the broccoli would reach the Italian Peninsula. In fact its colloquial name comes from the Italian, broccoli, which means sprout. Its scientific name is Brassica oleracea var. Italica, because it belongs to the family of brassicas, a species very close to cauliflower or cabbage.
What are the main varieties of broccoli?
There are three main varieties of broccoli: the Verde Calabrese, the Romanesco and the Verona. The most common is the Verde Calabrese, better known simply as “broccoli”.
- Calabrian Green: named after the Calabrian region in Italy. It is the most important one at a commercial level. It is an intense green colour and the inflorescence (group of flowers that are born grouped together on the same stem) measures 8 to 10 cm. It includes two groups of varieties depending on the time of harvest:
- Those for summer and autumn harvesting: These are characterised by a short cycle of approximately 60 days. In temperate zones, production can take place in autumn and winter.
- Those of harvesting in winter-spring: They are characterized by having a longer crop, which can last between 100 and 120 days.
- Verona broccoli: Its inflorescence is medium sized, between 10 and 15 cm, and is greyish white.
- Romanesco broccoli: It has a large green inflorescence, between 15 and 20 cm.
How is it and what does broccoli farming need?
Broccoli is a capable cold-season plant. It is very demanding in nutrients such as potassium and nitrogen, so it is necessary to use substrate based on decomposed compost, combined with soil. It is advisable to use soils that are soft, fertilized, fresh and with regular humidity. Precisely, these are crops that require constant humidity. However, good soil drainage is important. Broccoli is slightly tolerant to acid soils (6 to 6.8 Ph). When they have formed the inflorescence (flowering of the plant) is recommended to drip irrigation.
Some brushstrokes on the main soil and climate requirements of broccoli:
Did you know that broccoli is able to withstand low temperatures?
Broccoli is a crop that develops mainly in the autumn and winter seasons. They are resistant to low temperatures, as long as they do not exceed -5ºC. For this reason it is important to calculate the date of sowing so that the inflorescence does not coincide with the summer months or frost.
For a correct development of the plant it is necessary that during the growth phase temperatures range between 20 and 24 º C. In the phase of floral induction needs between 10 and 15 º C for several hours a day.
Broccoli needs acidic, moist and well-drained soils.
In areas where temperatures drop excessively, late varieties are grown, for harvesting in late winter or early spring. The optimum relative humidity is between 60 and 75%.
The cultivation of broccoli prefers soils with a tendency to acidity and not alkalinity, being the pH between 6.5 and 7. It requires moist and easily drained soils. It is sensitive to excessive soil salinity and waterlogging.
Light soils can be used for early varieties and stronger ones are more suitable for late varieties.
What kind of irrigation does broccoli cultivation require?
First, to determine the water needs of broccoli is necessary to know the amount of water the crop needs for proper development. These water requirements of broccoli are calculated from the value of evapotranspiration of the crop, ie the sum of water that the plant transpires during its biological functions and water that evaporates from the soil. This is the volume of water that must be replenished through irrigation or rain for a good development of the crop. In this case, to know what volume must be applied with irrigation it is essential to calculate the net needs, calculated as the difference between the gross water requirements and the natural water inputs, i.e. rain.
Regardless of the size of the plantation, the broccoli is a plant that requires a high input of water. However, it is important that the soil has sufficient drainage to keep it moist and free of puddles. Irrigation can be by sprinkling or drip. However, it is essential that during the inflorescence, the irrigation is done by drip.
Did you know that one way to protect your broccoli crop from fungus is to install drip irrigation?
During the inflorescence the irrigation in the broccoli crop should be by dripping since the excess of water in the head of the plant can cause rot or the appearance of fungi. Among them the Hyaloperonospora brassicae, which causes the pathogen mildew. Because this disease is favoured by cold and wet conditions, infection occurs more frequently in the seedling stage and in mature plants. Managing irrigation to reduce leaf wetness through morning watering, allowing the plant to dry out before sunset, or avoiding overhead watering by using drip irrigation, can help prevent mildew.
In drip irrigation systems, alternate watering is recommended, that is, every other day, with a watering time of 2 to 4 hours depending on the temperature, crop and phenological stage of the sown crop. Most of the vegetables go through stages where the lack of humidity is a risk since it can severely affect the yield or quality of the plant. It is very important that in these stages the humidity is not missing. In the case of broccoli, the lack of moisture can be somewhat dangerous during the formation of the skin and its elongation. However, as noted above, during the inflorescence it is important to control the moisture of the broccoli crop, so it is recommended that drip irrigation at this stage.
Do you grow broccoli outdoors?
In GESTIRIEGO we can help you and give you the necessary advice to install the most suitable irrigation system for your crop, but also, help you to convert or modernize your current irrigation system.