Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) is one of the most important vegetables grown on a large scale in India, for its head, which is formed by the development of densely overlapped leaves around the growing point. It is mainly grown in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Asom, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. India comes next to China in cabbage production. It is now grown almost throughout the year. It is biennial in nature having two specific periods of growth, viz. vegetative and reproductive phases to complete its life cycle. Cabbage is a rich source of vitamins A, B, and C, and it also contains minerals. Commonly grown cabbage in India is white whereas red and savoy cabbages are not so popular. The head shape of cabbage varies from flat to oval. Varieties with round and compact heads are preferred though pointed head varieties are also grown. The tender leaves are primarily used as a cooked vegetable, more in raw than in processed form.
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Climate and soil
Being a cool-season crop, cabbage thrives and performs well in a relatively cool moist climate. It can withstand extreme cold and frost relatively better than cauliflower. The optimum seed germination is obtained at 12.8-15.6°C soil temperature. The growth in most cabbage varieties is arrested when the temperature rises above 25°C. With the introduction of heat-tolerant hybrids and the development of tropical lines/hybrids, the temperature barrier has been removed. Cabbage can be grown on all types of soils ranging from sandy loam to clay. However, well-drained soils give higher yields. It requires a pH ranging from 5.5-6.5 for higher production.
Important varieties of cabbage are briefly described. below.
Early Jersey Wakefield: It is an introduction with a pointed head, which is preferred by some growers. It takes about 55-60 days for head formation. The outer leaves are few and slightly crinkled. The average weight is 1.0-1.5 kg. It has a better taste.
Golden Acre: It is an early variety evolved by selection from variety Copenhagen Market and recommended by IARI, RS, Katrain for cultivation. It takes about 60-65 days from transplanting to head formation. It has fewer outer leaves which are cup-shaped and arranged in two whorls. The heads are solid, with a short core and weighing about 1.0-1.5 kg. The heads should be harvested immediately after head formation; otherwise, cracking may take place. If the timely sowings are not done, the head formation will be conical. The variety is highly suitable for spring and summer growing in the hills.
Kinner Red: Among red cabbage, Kinner Red from exotic material has been recommended by UHF, Solan. The leaves are deep purplish red. The yield is usually low.
Pusa Ageti: It has been developed by IARI, New Delhi from TKCBH-28 (F1 hybrid) procured from Taiwan. It is the first variety that can produce seeds in a subtropical climate. It takes about 70-90 days from transplanting to harvesting. Head weight varies from 600-1,200 g, yielding 11-38 tonnes/ha, depending upon the time of transplanting. It has medium size frame, small stalk, upright growing habit, and wax-coated grey-green foliage, broad lamina with prominent midrib and waxy margin.
Pusa Drum Head: This variety is released by IARI, Regional Station, Katrain. Plants have a wider frame with prominent midribs and venation. Heads are solid and flat, weighing about 4 kg, and takes about 80-90 days from transplanting to head formation. It is probably the earliest variety among the Drum Head Group. It also possesses field resistance to blackleg.
Pusa Mukta: This is a variety developed at IARI, Regional Station, Katrain, by hybridization between EC 24855 x EC 10109. The light green foliage with wavy margins is the distinguishing character of this variety. It has a short stalk, medium frame, and slightly bigger leaves than Golden Acre and is wavy puckered at the margins. The heads are compact, slightly flattish round with a loose wrapper leaf at the top. It is ready for harvest about a week later than Golden Acre and the average head weight is 1.5-2.0 kg. It is resistant to black rot (Xanthomonas campestris) and has been specially identified for areas where this disease is a problem.
Pride of India: It is an introduction and recommended by Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan. The plant type of this variety is similar to ‘Golden Acre’. But it is about a week’s letter in maturity. It has bigger size heads, weighing about 1.5-2.0 kg per head.
September: It is an introduction from the German Democratic Republic. It is recommended for cultivation by the Tamil Nadu State Department of Horticulture and is popular in the Nilgiris hills. The foliage is dark green with a wavy margin. The stalk is long and heads usually tilt on one side after formation. It has solid, flattish round to slightly oblong heads. It has very good keeping quality. This variety takes about 96-100 days from transplanting to head formation.
Cabbage is the one among cole crops where F, hybrids have become very popular. Most of the hybrid seeds in India are imported by seed companies and sold under different brand names. Some of the hybrids identified for release are described here.
Pusa Cabbage 1: This is the first hybrid released in the public sector by the IARI, Regional Station, Katrain. Its leaves are slightly cut at the margin, round, waxy, and green. The Head is compact, attractive, covered with waxy green leaves with good staying capacity in the field. It takes 55-60 days after transplanting to the first harvest and has an average yield of 35-45 tonnes/ha.
Bajrang (BSS-50): This hybrid has been developed at Bejo Sheetal Seeds Pvt. Ltd., Jalna. Heads are dark green, smooth, and highly compact. The outer leaves are upright. It matures in 65 days but can stand on the field for 45 days after maturity. It can tolerate high temperatures (up to 36°C) and is resistant to fusarium wilt. The average head weight is 1 kg.
BSS-44: This hybrid has also been developed at Bejo Sheetal Seeds Pvt. Ltd., Jalna. The head is roundish, an average weight of 2.5 kg, and matures 75 days after transplanting. But, the head can also stand for 20 days in the field after maturity. This hybrid is resistant to fusarium wilt.
Hari Rani Gol: It is a good hybrid for medium maturity purposes. It produces a medium-sized ball-shaped dark blackish green, solid head with good wrapper leaves. Each head weight is 1.5-2.0 kg. It can be harvested after 95-100 days of transplanting.
Kranti: This hybrid is ready for harvesting within 60 days after transplanting. It is good for close spacing. Heads are round and compact with 0.8-1.2 kg per head weight.
Mitra: It is an early hybrid with an excellent head to plant ratio. Heads are fresh, green, uniform, compact, ball-shaped with weights around 0.8-1.2 kg each. It has good field retention ability.
Sri Ganesh Gol: The hybrid has been developed at Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd., Jalna, and is recommended for cultivation in Andhra Pradesh, eastern Part of Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa. Plants are vigorous. Heads are round, compact, attractive, bluish-green, and become ready for harvest in 90-95 days after nursery sowing. It is resistant to yellows and has good transport quality. It yields 30-35 tonnes/ha.
BSS-115: The hybrid has been developed by a commercial agency. Heads are highly compact and mature in 75 days. This hybrid can be grown around the year. The average weight of the head is 2-3 kg. This hybrid is resistant to fusarium wilt.
Suvarna (BSS-32): The hybrid has been developed by a commercial agency. Heads are round have strong smooth outer leaves and mature in 110 days.
Quisto: It is a high-yielding hybrid by the commercial agency and tolerates severe hot conditions. Head can stand in the field conditions for up to 70 days. After maturity, heads are compact round, and very solid with dark blackish color. It is good for tropical climate.
Nath Laxmi 401: A hybrid has uniform compact heads with better shelf life, yielding 50-75 tonnes/ha.
Cabbage is grown from seed. In India, the seeds are generally sown in a seedbed and 4-6 weeks old seedlings are transplanted in the field. The seedbeds for early crops require cover to save small seedlings from rains, while in the high hills, it may be better to grow them under glass frames or polytunnels. However, the seedlings may be raised in the open. About 100 sq.m nursery area is required for raising plants for a one-hectare area.
The Portrays of 98 cells are ideal for cabbage seedling production with 1 seed per cell. Seeds are covered with cocopeat and trays kept one over the other (8-10 Nos) and covered with a polythene sheet for 5 days or till start germination. When the seeds germinate, arrange the portrays on the raised beds inside the shade net nursery.
About 200-500 g seed is required for one hectare. Seed-sowing time varies in different parts of India. In high hills, seeds are sown during May-June. In the hilly areas, which receive heavy rains, sowing is done during August-September. In the plains of northern India, sowing in situ or in seedbed starts from early August and continues till November for the late cultivars. In eastern India, sowing is generally done from mid to late September. Sowing is delayed further for areas in the southern hills except in the western and southern peninsular regions, where the crop can be grown almost round the year by selecting proper cultivars/hybrids.
Cabbage is a transplanted crop; 30-40 day old seedlings are selected for planting. Hardening off seedlings is done by withholding irrigation 4-6 days prior to planting. The field is prepared by 3 or 4 ploughings. The early and main season varieties are transplanted at a distance of 45 cm x 60 cm from plant to plant and row to row, respectively. Pre-planting application of a weedicide is recommended to keep the crop weed-free. Shallow hoeings should be done to remove weeds and loosen the soil for better aeration. To produce solid heads, the plants are earthed up 5-6 weeks after transplanting.
Requirements of manures and fertilizers in cabbage are dependent upon the fertility status of the soil determined by soil testing. However, if soil testing is not possible, 20-25 tonnes/ha of farmyard manure should be applied and thoroughly mixed in the soil 15-20 days before transplanting. The quantity of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash also varies from place to place. However, application of 180 kg N, 50 kg P, and 50 kg K/ha (Jabalpur), depending upon the region. Application of 250 kg N, 120 kg P, and 100 kg K/ha is advised for seed production of cabbage Golden Acre at Katrain.
Cabbage is very sensitive to soil moisture. First irrigation is given just after transplantation of seedlings and thereafter, irrigation may be done at 10 15 days intervals according to season and soil conditions. But optimum soil moisture should be maintained regularly. Cabbage is usually irrigated by furrow. method of irrigation. Excessive irrigation in the early stages causes superficial rooting and washing down of nutrients. Heavy irrigation should also be avoided when the heads have formed as it will result in the splitting of heads. The drip irrigation system is recommended in cabbage fields.
Diseases and pests
Cabbage is affected by a number of fungal diseases take downy mildew (Perenospora parasitica), wire stem (Rhizoctonia solani), black spot (Alternaria brassicae), cabbage yellows (Fusarium oxysproum f. sp conglutinans), black leg (Phoma lingam), bacterial diseases, black rot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris), spot of cabbage (Pseudomonas cichorii), clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae). Among, pests, the most important is the diamondback moth besides leaf Webber, mustard sawfly, cabbage aphid, cabbage borer, and cabbage butterfly.
Harvesting and post-harvest management
Mechanization can be adopted where the cabbage production area is very large. The harvesting of cabbage is done when the heads reach a marketable size. The early cultivars grown under comparatively warmer conditions develop loosehead at the initial stage, but become harder at maturity. In some cultivars, the heads start cracking soon after maturity. In such cases, the quality of the head deteriorates fast, if harvesting is delayed. Hence, harvesting should be done at the right stage for getting a good quality head. Early cultivars take 60-80 days, medium 80-100 days, and late 100-130 days for harvesting after transplanting.
The yield of early cabbage variety ranges between 30-40 tonnes/ha, whereas, medium and late cabbage 40-60 tonnes/ha in northern plain. The stalk should be cut flat and as close to the head as possible, yet long enough to retain two to four wrapper leaves. Extra leaves act as cushions during handling and may be desired in certain markets. Yellowed, damaged, or diseased wrapper leaves should be removed, however, heads with insect damage and other defects should be discarded. It is essential that heads not harvested be left undamaged because fields may be harvested as many as three times for maximum yield. Harvested cabbage can be placed in bags, boxes, wagons, or pallet bins, depending on the harvesting method employed. Harvesting aids can significantly reduce harvest labor costs, improve harvest efficiency and cabbage quality, and speed the harvest operation dramatically. Aids may be as simple as a modified farm trailer for transporting cabbage and boxes or as sophisticated as a self-propelled unit. An effective but simple harvesting aid employs a simple belt conveyor attached to a tractor that slowly passes through the field alongside the pickers. Workers place harvested heads on the conveyer belt, which carries the heads to a bulk bin, wagon, or even a mobile packing station. The marketable cabbage heads can be stored at 0°C and 90-95% RH with 3-5% oxygen and 5-7% carbon dioxide for about 2-8 months.