It is one of the most important group of vegetable crops which is widely grown and popular in almost all the regions of the country. The word 'Cole is abbreviated from `Caulis which means stem. Probably, the stem being quite prominent, the term 'Cole was used to refer the group of these plants originating from a single wild form, namely Brassica Oleracea var. Sylvestris. This group constitutes mainly cabbage, cauliflower, knolkhol, Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli. The Mediterranean Sea coast is considered. The centre of origin of these crops from where they spread first in Europe and then to almost all the countries of the world ranging from temperate to tropical.
Among the various Cole crops, cabbage and cauliflower are most widely grown on commercial scale in India. While crops like knolkhol, Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli are grown on very small scale and their area is scattered. They are preferred for growing in Kitchen garden.Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea var.capitata)
The cabbage consists of thick leaves overlapping tightly on growing main bud called 'head. Cabbage is very convenient to grow both on large and small-scale (kitchen garden) cultivation. Cabbage is grown throughout the country but it is more popular in Southern States where it is available all the year round. In northern India also, the cabbage availability period has been considerably extended with the development of tropical varieties/hybrids.
Cabbage is an introduced vegetable crop in India, but it has adapted itself well and is grown all over the country. It is a rich source of vitamin A, B and C. It also contains minerals like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium and iron. Use of cabbage prevents constipation, increases digestion and appetite. It is said to be good for person suffering from diabetes. Cabbage is commonly used as cooked vegetable. It also makes into a good salad mixed in tomato, green chillies, beet root, etc. Nice pickle is prepared from cabbage.
Cabbage can be grown under a wide range of climate but cool moist climate is most suitable. It loses its flavour in dry warm weather. The optimum soil temperature for seed germination is 12 to 160C.
It can be grown in a wide range of sandy to well drained heavy soils but it prefers sandy loam soils. Early cultivars grow well in light soils while late maturing ones perform better on heavy well drained soils. The optimum soil pH for cabbage is between 6.0 to 6.5. Most cabbage cultivars are moderately tolerant to salt.
A large number of cabbage varieties differing in maturity, head shape and size, colour of leaves and shape of the leaves are grown throughout the world. All these types have been classified into different groups.
Early Maturing varieties : The varieties under this group are usually ready within 60-70 days after transplanting the seedlings. The varieties are: Golden Acre, Pride of India, Copenhagen Market, Early Drumhead, Pusa Mukta.
Midseason varieties: These varieties will be ready for harvesting in 80-90 days after planting. These varieties are: All Head early, Wisconsin, All Green, September.
Late varieties - These varieties require long winter season for good yield and quality. The heads are ready in 90-120 days after planting. The varieties under this group are : Pusa Drumhead, Danish Ballhead, Late Flat Dutch.
F.Hybrids: Besides above mentioned varieties, some F, hybrids are also being marketed by some of the seed companies. These are: Hari Rani, Shri Ganesh Gol, Kamdhenu (Mahyco), Sujata, Bajrang, Swati (Rallis India Ltd), Ganga, Yamuna, Kaveri (Indo-American Hybrid Seed Co.), Green Express and Green Boy (National Seed Corporation).
The raising of seedlings in the nursery and then transplanting the seedlings in the field is commonly practised to produce cabbage in India and several other countries. The soil of nursery bed should be well prepared and free from weeds and disease organisms. The sieved well decomposed Farm Yard manure or Compost 2-3kg/m2 be added to the seed beds. Raised seed beds of 8.5x1.0m size with 15-20cm height are prepared for raising seedlings. About 15 such seed beds are required for raising seedlings for one hectare and seed rate for one hectare is 300-500 gm.
The seeds are sown 1-2cm deep by dropping at 4-5cm in rows 10cm apart. The seeds are gently covered with the mixture of fine manure and soil. A regular and good moisture supply is needed for rapid germination and optimum growth of seedlings. The seedbeds are drenched with captaf (2g per litre of water) to prevent attack of diseases.
To keep the upper soil of nursery beds moist a thin layer of dry grass is spread on the beds and watering is done with a watering can or with the help of sprinkler. But the grass cover should be removed as soon as the emergence of young seedlings starts. The seedlings become ready for transplanting in 4 to 6 weeks depending on the weather conditions.
Sowing time : Northern and eastern regions.
Sowing for cool season : October November
Sowing for Hot weather : July-Aug; Jan Feb.
Southern and western regions : Round the year
Generally, 4-6 weeks old healthy seedlings are selected for transplanting in the main field. Prior to uprooting irrigation is withheld for above 4-5 days. This is a sort of hardening to seedlings which helps in better survival and establishment upon transplanting. However, seedlings should be thoroughly irrigated a day before uprooting for transplanting. Transplanting of seedlings be done in the afternoon for better establishment.
Cabbage crop is planted on flat land or ridges and furrows. The soil is thoroughly prepared by ploughing and harrowing to a fine tilth. For early planting ridges and furrow method is advisable especially in areas where the rains occur at the time of planting.
The planting distance may very accordingly to cultivar, planting season, soil conditions and market requirements. The following planting distances are recommended on the basis of maturity of cultivars.
Early varieties 45x45 cm or 60x30 cm.
Mid season 60x45 cm
Late season 60x45 cm or 60x60 cm.
Manures and Fertilizers
Cabbage is heavy feeder especially of nitrogen and potash. The amount and type of fertilizer used vary in different parts of the country depending on agro-climatic conditions, plant population and cultivar.
At the time of land preparation, well decomposed farm yard manure or compost at 150-200 Quintals per hectare be thoroughly mixed in the soil. At the time of transplanting of seedlings, about 40-60kg nitrogen, 40-60kg phosphorous and 60-80kg potassium per hectare be applied. Top dressing of nitrogen at the rate of 40-60kg per hectare about 3 weeks after transplanting be given.
The foliar application of nitrogen at 10kg N/ha has been found economical and more effective in improving cabbage production.
First irrigation is given soon after transplanting of seedlings and thereafter irrigations may be applied at 10-15 days intervals. But optimum soil moisture should be maintained by frequent irrigation during critical period of head formation and development. Uneven moisture supply during this period may result into splitting or bursting of head adversely affecting the quality of produce.
Regular interculture operations like weedings, hoeing and essential for proper aeration to root system and control of weeds to promote healthy and vigorous growth and productivity.
Treat the seed with Captaf or Thirum (2g per kg of seed) and drench the nursery bed with captaf (2kg per litre of water) to control damping off disease.
Spray the seedbeds with Metasystox (1ml. per litre of water) along with 3g of Blitox or 3g of Dithane M-45 at weekly interval.
After transplanting, spray the crop with Malathion 2ml and 4g Dithane-45 in one first month upto harvesting stage.
Harvesting and yield
Cabbage heads should be harvested when they attain the full size depending on the variety used. They have a tendency to burst or loosen the leaves beyond the marketable stage. In such cases, the quality of heads deteriorated fast if harvesting is delayed. However, cultivars differ in their susceptibility to cracking.
The yield of cabbage varieties greatly depends on choice of cultivar, climatic conditions, management practices, etc. The early maturing and tropical cultivars produce lower yields (200 250q/ha) due to shorter growing season while midseason and late varieties give much higher yields (350-450q/ha) because of favourable cooler climate for long period.
Post harvest handling and marketing
After harvesting, the outer mature unfolded leaves are removed, and if any long hard potion of stem is present, may also be removed. These heads are graded according to the size and quality and packed in gunny bags or plastic crates and transported to the markets in trucks.
The marketable heads can be stored for 2-3 weeks if arranged in crates and placed in well-ventilated place. They can be stored for several weeks in the Cold Storage at 00C to 1.70C with 85 to 87% relative humidity.