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Chapter 15: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts

15.1 Varieties

Variety selection is important both for the horticultural characteristics specified by the market and the pest resistance profile that will be the foundation of a pest management program. If a field has a known disease history, the Tables below can help to determine which varieties will be more successful in reducing disease problems. Consider the market when choosing varieties, selecting those with some level of disease resistance if possible. This information was obtained from the Organic Production and IPM Guide for Organic Cole Crops. See also a table of varieties adapted to the Eastern climate.

Table 15.1.1 Disease and Insect Resistance of Cabbage

  Yellows Black rot Tipburn Thrips2
Fresh-market, Green
Artost (68) H   H  
Atlantis (70) H H - 1
Blue Dynasty (75) H H    
Blue Lagoon (75) H M    
Blue Vantage (80) H L H H
Bobcat (76) - - - 6
Bronco B (78) - - - 3
Brutus 3 - - H L
Caramba (62) H - - H
Cecile (80) - - - 2
Charmant (65) H H - L
Cheers (85) H H - H
Early Thunder (72) H M M H
Emblem (85) H H H -
Fast Vantage (59)        
Fresco (75) H H - 4-6
Gazelle (70)     H  
General (62) - - - 2
Gideon B (83) H H - 2
Golden Dynasty (65) H      
Greenboy (85) H T S M
Green Cup (78) H H H H
Headstart (65)        
Leopold (80)     H  
Lynx (78) - - - 5
Matsumo (80) H H H 3-4
Morris (67) H - - 1
Pacifica (64) H H H M
Platinum Dynasty (75) H H H  
Royal Vantage (82) H H H H
Quick Start (64) H S H M
Quisor (90) M - M -
Quisto (89) H H H -
Ramada (83) H H - 1
Rio Verde3 H H - H
Rocket (62) H S H H
Rotunda (83) H     L
Royal Vantage (70) H H    
Silver Dynasty H H H  
Solid Blue 790 (79) H M H H
Stonehead (67) H      
SuperElite (85) H M H 3
Superstar (85-88) H H H M
Thunderhead (74) H H H H
Vantage Point (85) H H H H
Winner (58) H      
Fresh-market cabbage, Red
Azurro (78)     H 5
Cairo (85)     H 5
Primero (72)     H 5
Red Jewel (75) - - H -
Rio Grande Red (83)   L M  
Rinda (75)       1
Royale (78) H L H -
Ruby Perfection (95) M M M H 3
Super Red 80 (80)   M H 2
Super Red 90 (90) H L H -
Savoy Cabbage
Alcosa (62)     H  
Atlanta (78)        
Bountivoy (84) H - - -
Clarissa (78) H - H -
Famosa (70) - - H -
Miletta (88)     H  
Primavoy (98)        
Savoy Ace (78-83) M - - -
Savoy Blue (85)        
Savoy Master (87)        
SC100 (100)        
Taler (85)        
Wirosa (110)     H  
Storage Cabbage
Amtrak (115) H M H 4
Arena (100) H H H  
Balaton -     2
Bartolo (115) - L/M H 1
Bently (120)     H  
Bloktor (112) H   H H
Brutus     H L
Constellation (120) H     H
Counter (118) H H H  
Huron (115) H M - 5
Loughton (115) H M/H - 2
Missouri (120)       5
Multikeeper (86) H H   H
Novator (110) H H    
Ontario (110) H     2
Rinda (75)   M H L
Safekeeper II (98) H H    
Saratoga H     5
Seradox (105) H L/M H 2
Shelton (115)     H  
Storage #4 (112) H L/M - 1
SuperDane (100) H L H L
Superstor (112) H      
Topgun (105)     H  
Red Storage
Arturo (115)     H  
Buscaro (100)        
Futurita (110)   S H  
Induro (115)        
Lectro (117)   H 2  
Rona (115)     M 5
RS 4024       4
RS 6696       4
Vitaro (105) H S H 5
Processing - Kraut and Slaw
Almanac (slaw) (70) - - H L
Cabton (100)        
Cecile (80) H L/M H 2
Deuce (95) H S T L
Hinova (100) H H H 2
Kaitlan (94)     H 2
Krautman (78)       3-5
Mandy (103)        
Megaton (85)     H 2-3
Mentor (90)     H 4
Milestone (85)        
Moreton (105) H M T 2-3
Otorino (90)   S T L
Padoc (70) H S    
Rinda (75)   M H L
Score (90)       2
SuperDane (100) H L H L
Superkraut 86   H H H
Tobia (87) H      
Trnasam (105) H L-M H 4
1: L = low, M = moderate, and H = high level of tolerance to pest/problem. T=tolerant, S=susceptible.
2: Days to maturity in ( ).
3: from New England Vegetable Management Guide. Thrips resistance: 1=susceptible, 6=tolerant.
Information from Organic Production and IPM Guide for Cole Crops, breeding research by Phillip Griffiths, and seed catalogues.

Table 15.1.2 Disease Resistance of Broccoli

Most broccoli varieties tend to be susceptible to black rot.

Variety (dth)1 Black Rot Downy Mildew Bacterial Head Rot Cold Heat3
Arcadia (86) X2 X   X X
Bay Meadows (72)       X X
Belstar (66)o   X   X S
Concord (81)         X
Diplomat (68)   X   X X
Emerald Pride (74)   X     X
Eureka (76) X X   X  
Everest (61)   X   X X
Fiesta (80) X     X X
Goliath (55)*          
Green Magic (60)         X
Gypsy (90)   X   X X
Imperial (72)         X
Ironman (78)          
Major (55)   X     X
Monaco (66)         X
Packman (50)*          
Patron (73)   X      
Premium Crop (56)*   X     S
Triathlon (76)   X      
Waltham 29 (55)o*       X X
Windsor (68)   X X X X
1Days from transplant to harvest.
2X=tolerant or resistant. S=susceptible.
3Harvests in July and early August are high risk for head distortion.
*Heritage variety suitable for home garden or farm stand.
oAvailable as organic seed.

Table 15.1.3. Recommended Brussels Sprout Varieties

Brussels sprouts tend to be fairly resistant to most diseases but specifics on disease resistance are not available.

Oliver Diablo (Tr)
Jade Cross E Vancover (Tr)
Prince Marvel Rowena (Tr)
Tr = trial

Table 15.1.4. Recommended Cauliflower Varieties

Most cauliflower varieties tend to be susceptible to black rot. Specific disease resistance information is not available.

Amazing (S,F)
Apex (S,F)
Candid Charm (F)
Cumberland (S,F)
Fremont (S)
Guardian (F, Tr)
Icon (F)
Minuteman (S, F,Tr)
Sentinel (S)
Serrano (F,Tr)
Shasta (F, Tr)
Starbrite Y (F,Tr)
S = spring; F = fall; Tr = trial

More tables for resistant varieties

15.2 Planting Methods


Seed can be planted outdoors relatively early in the spring because germination will occur at soil temperatures as low as 40°F. The optimal range for germination is 45° to 85°F. Planting of fresh-market cabbage usually starts in late April or early May in upstate New York and one to two weeks earlier on Long Island. Most Chinese heading cabbage (Napa) are direct seeded in mid-May for early July harvest.

Cabbage for medium- to long-term storage is usually transplanted to the field in June or early July for mid- to late-fall harvest. Plants four to six weeks old, slightly hardened, with four to five true leaves are best. Transplants for summer plantings are usually grown in field nurseries. For early spring planting, plants are grown in greenhouses where temperatures can be kept above 55°F, or they are shipped from southern states (See insect management section for precautions). Transplants may also be used for Chinese heading cabbage. Use a minimum transplant cell size of one-inch diameter. Plants should have a minimum of five true leaves and be grown for no longer than four weeks (including hardening) to avoid checking growth and potential bolting.

Most cabbage in New York is transplanted, but a considerable acreage of the crop grown for late summer or fall harvest is direct seeded. Direct seeding requires greater attention to detail than transplanting, but if the seed is relatively inexpensive, direct seeding is less costly than transplanting. Precision seeders should be used to obtain a uniform, well-spaced stand. Good soil preparation and shallow seed placement (1/2 to 3/4 inch) are necessary for direct seeding to be successful. Timely control of root maggot and flea beetle is especially important in direct-seeded fields.


Planting methods are similar to those for cabbage (above).. Transplants for spring crops are set starting in late April in upstate New York. Fall crops are transplanted from late June through late August. Harvests in July and early August often have unacceptable cull rates from head distortion. Direct seeding can be successful, but stands are at elevated risk of loss to weeds. Direct-seeded fields should be planted 15 to 20 days before transplants are set out if simultaneous crop maturity is desired. Seed size is important for emergence through crusted soils, with fewer than 150,000 seeds/lb having the best success.


Most cauliflower in New York State is grown for fall harvest with transplants set from mid- to late July. Some growers in cooler areas may have success with spring-planted crops transplanted in early April. Spring planted broccoli and cauliflower are subject to “buttoning”. See Table 15.4.1 for an explanation.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are best transplanted beginning in late June.

Table 15.2.1 Recommended spacing

Crop Row (inches) In-row (inches)
Fresh Market 24-36 10-14
Kraut 24-36 18-24
  Early 3 rows per bed with 12 to 15 inches between plants in a row
Field seeded 3-4 rows/bed at 17" 7-10
  Large head 24-36 8-12
  Crown cut (20-25k/ac) 3 rows per 60 in bed 8-12
Cauliflower 34-36 12-18
Brussels Sprouts 34-36 24

1Broccoli head size is very sensitive to population, and the appropriate spacing will vary by variety.
The diameter of large heads is 8-10 in., crown cut is 5 in.

15.3 Fertility

Maintain a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. A pH above 6.8 may be useful where club root is a problem. See Table 15.3.1 for the recommended rates of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Boron may be needed on sandy soils with low organic matter or when the pH is <5.5 or near 7.0. Add one to two pounds of boron per acre to the fertilizer. Magnesium may be needed on sandy soils with pH <5.5 that cannot be limed because of rotational considerations. Apply 25 pounds of magnesium per acre in the fertilizer under these conditions. Molybdenum may be deficient at pH <5.5. If the pH will not be raised because of rotational considerations, two to four pounds of sodium or ammonium molybdate per acre may be applied in the fertilizer or irrigation water.

Table 15.3.1 Recommended nutrients based on soil tests

N pounds/acre P2O5 pounds/acre   K2O pounds/acre Comments
  Soil Phosphorus Level   Soil Potassium Level  
  low med. high   low med. high  
Application for direct seeding
100-120 120 80 40   160 120 60

Total recommended.

40 80 40 0   120 80 20 Broadcast and disk-in.1
40 40 40 40   40 40 40 Band place with planter.
20-40 0 0 0   0 0 0 Sidedress four weeks after seeding.
Application for transplants
100-120 120 80 40   160 120 60

Total recommended.

40 80 40 40   120 80 40 Broadcast and disk-in.1
40 40 40 0   40 40 20 Band place with planter or broadcast before planting.
20-40 0 0 0   0 0 0 Sidedress four weeks after planting.
1: Sidedressed nitrogen can be split into two applications four and eight weeks after seeding or transplanting. Growers with leachable soils may split the necessary nitrogen between planting and two sidedressings and eliminate broadcast applications.
2: If phosphorus level is high, starter solution may provide adequate phosphorus with no additional P2O5 needed.

15.4 Harvesting

Caution: All crucifer crops are sensitive to ethylene in storage. Symptoms include leaf yellowing and abscission.


Fresh-market cabbage is cut with four to five wrapper leaves and is usually packed at 14 to 18 heads per box. Storage cabbage is usually harvested with one to two wrapper leaves and placed directly in pallet bins that hold approximately one ton of cabbage.

Fresh-market cabbage harvest may begin as early as the first week of July and continue through the summer. Storage and kraut harvests begin in mid-October and may continue through November.

Processing (kraut) cabbage is harvested almost entirely by machine, but fresh-market and storage crops are cut by hand because machine harvest damages the head and wrapper leaves. Harvest aids such as conveyer belts that carry cabbage into pallet boxes in the field are frequently used for the large storage cabbage fields. Cabbage that has been handled carefully can be stored for weeks or even months longer than badly bruised cabbage. Bruised cabbage also takes longer to trim and suffers greater product loss. Overmature cabbage will have a shorter storage life than mature or slightly immature cabbage.

This crop will tolerate light frosts. Napa cabbage is harvested when the head is fully developed and firm. Note: the head will never be as firm as standard cabbage.


Broccoli to be sold by the head should be firm, well developed, but not opening. Most varieties are harvested 3 times at 3-4 day intervals. To avoid contamination, do not set boxes on soil during harvest. Leaves are trimmed and heads are sold either individually or by weight. Crown cut broccoli is trimmed ½ to 1 ½ inches below the branches, as specified by the customer. Bunched broccoli is usually trimmed to eight inches in length and two or more heads are banded together. Both cuts are marketed in containers holding 22-23 pounds of broccoli. Cool to 35 degrees or less within four hours of harvest to maintain quality using a water or ice-based system. Cold air cools too slowly and dehydrates. A pound of ice in each box helps maintain temperature and hydration for delivery.


Harvest cauliflower when curds are tight and compact and still surrounded by healthy wrapper leaves. When wrapper leaves are left on, cauliflower loses its moisture very quickly. Refrigerate at 32°F and 95 percent relative humidity with good ventilation. Under ideal conditions, cauliflower may be stored for four to five weeks. Cauliflower is normally packed in cartons of 12 to 16 heads weighing 25 to 30 pounds.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are harvested when they are about one to two inches in diameter, firm, and with good color. Once stripped from the main stalk, sprouts should be stored at 32°F, with high relative humidity and good air circulation. Under these conditions, sprouts will maintain good quality for up to five weeks. Stored too long, outer leaves become yellow, and texture becomes poor. Brussels sprouts are normally packed in flats or cartons consisting of 16 12-ounce bags. Marketing Brussels sprouts by the stalk is practiced at the retail level.


Storage facilities should be thoroughly cleaned prior to fall use. All crop debris should be removed and the floors mopped and disinfected. After cleaning, the storage facility should be ventilated to remove all vapors and odors from the cleaning solutions. The floor must be completely dry. Wooden storage boxes are often disinfected to remove pathogens and contaminating organisms that may cause decay. Storage boxes should be treated after use in the summer months prior to fall harvest. Whether or not the storage boxes are treated with a disinfectant, air drying the boxes outside the storage facility during the warm summer months will promote desiccation and death of organisms on them.

Table 15.4.1 Nonpathogenic disorders

Nonpathogenic Disorders of Cabbage

Crop(s) Disorder Management
Cabbage Internal tipburn Variety selection, irrigation Tipburn is caused by inadequate supply of calcium in one or more of the leaves. Maintain uniform soil moisture to prevent moisture stress. Some varieties have been shown to be tipburn tolerant.
Cabbage Black petiole Variety selection, fertility Black petiole may be associated with high levels of phosphorus and corresponding low levels of potassium.
Cabbage Pepper spot or black speck Variety selection

Spot or spec may be caused by high rates of fertilizer, cultural conditions promoting vigorous growth, and temperature fluctuations. High rates of potassium have been shown to reduce severity.

Broccoli, Cauliflower Buttoning Transplant size Large or old broccoli plants and those grown at low temperatures (55? to 60?F) are likely to button after field setting. For early spring planting, choose only small, hardy transplants with no more than four to five true leaves.
Cabbage Bolting Variety selection Bolting can occur if the early planted crop is subjected to ten or more continuous days of temperatures between 35? and 50?F. The sensitivity to bolting is variety dependent.
Broccoli Premature flowering Irrigation

Premature flowering is usually attributed to periods of hot weather immediately before heads are harvested; however, high temperatures (>90?F) seven to eight weeks after seeding have a greater influence on the tendency to flower than high temperatures the week before harvest. Irrigation during high temperatures could reduce potential loss.

15.5 Disease Management

15.5.1 Alternaria Leaf Spot

15.5.2 Black Rot

15.5.3 Black Leg and Seed Decay

15.5.4 Club Root

15.5.5 Downy Mildew

15.5.6 Fusarium Yellows

15.5.7 Head Rot of Broccoli

15.5.8 Root Rot

15.5.9 White Mold

15.5.10 Sugar Beet Cyst Nematode


15.6 Insect Management

15.6.1 Cabbage Root Maggot

15.6.2 Flea Beetle

15.6.3 Diamondback Moth

15.6.4 Imported Cabbageworm

15.6.5 Cabbage Looper

15.6.6 Aphids

15.6.7 Onion Thrips

15.6.8 Swede Midge

15.6.9 Slugs


15.7 Weed Management



Maintained by Abby Seaman, New York State IPM Program. Last modified 2019.