Bulletin No. 44 New Series October, 1930
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
, ... a ..a .a. a- , a a,_ a. a a a
T. J. APPLEYARD, INC., TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA
rC I >1DirT pV r wErll atwee ass.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture........ Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Assistant Commissioner............ Tallahassee
Phil S. Taylor, Supervising Inspector ...... ...... Tallahassee
Plant Characteristics .......................... 5
L eaves ................................... 5
R oots ................................... 5
Temperature, Moisture, Light .................. 5
Soils ......................................... 6
Propagation ................................. 7
F ertilization ................................. 8
B launching ................................... 9
Harvesting and Packing ....................... 9
M marketing ................................... 10
G reading ................................. 10
Loading ................................. 11
V varieties .................................... 11
D effects .................................. 12
D diseases ..................................... 13
Black Rot "................................ 13
Black Leg ................................ 14
Brown Rot .............................. 15
Insect Enemies ............................... 15
A phis ................................... 15
Cabbage W orm .................. ........ 16
Cabbage Looper .......................... 17
Harlequin Cabbage Bug ................... 17
Acknowledgments ............................ 17
Cauliflower Production in Florida
By Ralph Stoutamire
THE exact origin of cauliflower is not known. It is thought
that it is a progeny of the wild cabbage (Brassica cleracea)
which is found growing on the coastal regions of western
Europe. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and kohl-
rabi are all close relatives of cauliflower and members of the
cabbage family, and are understood to have developed from the
same common origin.
Broccolis and cauliflower varieties are of comparatively recent
origin, their greatest improvement having been made by Eng-
lish and Danish gardeners. The cauliflowers and the more com-
pact or heading-broccolis are probably the most recent develop-
ments, being variations of the sprouting broccolis. Cauliflower
and broccoli are so much alike that they might well be studied to-
Cauliflower and broccoli are not of much commercial im-
portance in Florida. The latter seems to be much better adapted
to our climate. It is entirely possible, however, that a desirable
strain of cauliflower could be developed by selection and breed-
ing that would do well here. St. Johns, Seminole and Manatee
are probably leaders in this state in cauliflower production.
Leaves: Cauliflower leaves are longer and somewhat nar-
rower than cabbage leaves, although in some of the larger broc-
colis they attain a width of 15 inches and a length of 3 feet.
The small inner leaves are at first incurving. This provides the
curd with some protection. The curd, or edible portion, is the
swollen, much-divided branches of the flower, which forms the
"head." But at the time when the head is prime for cutting
the real flower parts have not developed.
Roots: The root system is quite similar to that of cabbage.
In general it is finely divided and very shallow. The roots ex-
tend in all directions, or radially, for about 3 feet from the
plant and most of them are in the upper 3 inches of soil,
although they may penetrate as deep as 21/2 feet, depending
upon soil and moisture conditions.
TEMPERATURE, MOISTURE, LIGHT
Cauliflower succeeds best where the temperature during the
later stages of growth is uniformly cool, and where both
humidity and soil moisture are fairly high. Thus in Florida
it is a winter and spring crop. Tempering sea breezes-available
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 1. An excellent curd or cauliflower head, cut at the right stage of
ripeness. The leaves of this head were cut back in order to show the
curd; they would not be cut for marketing. (Photo by courtesy of Kil-
gore Seed Co.)
long the Florida coast-provide these conditions. If tempera-
ures are too low, especially in the early stages of growth, there
i. danger of premature heading or "buttoning."
Wind and drought are very damaging to a crop. Very high
temperatures may cause the curds to be ricey, fuzzy and leafy.
Sime of the early-maturing varieties seem to be somewhat less
susceptible to adverse weather conditions and may, for this
reason, be grown further inland than some of the later-maturing
An abundance of soil moisture throughout the growing period
is one of the most essential requirements. Both irrigation and
drainage should be studied in case rainfall is not dependable
during the growing period.
Cauliflower will not do well on the lighter soil types. The
heavier soils are more retentive of moisture and, therefore, are
cooler. Any deep, fertile soil well supplied with organic matter
is suitable for cauliflower and broccoli. The better muck soils,
if properly supplemented with fertilizer, should produce good
cauliflower and broccoli.
There is but one method of starting the plants that needs to
be considered by truckers of Florida. This is the drilling of
seed in open seedbeds. Too thick seeding should be avoided, so
as to prevent "damping off" and the spindly, weak growth
which usually results from crowding.
Watering of the beds should be done in the morning to per-
mit the surface to dry somewhat. When watering is done it
should be thorough. The more thorough watering is done, the
less frequently it is necessary. At the same time the chances of
"damping off" are correspondingly reduced.
Just prior to transferring the plants from the seedbed to the
field, they should be "blocked off." This is done by running a
sharp instrument like a butcher knife to a depth of several
Fig. 2. This double-row system of growing cauliflower is not practical, at
least not recommended, on most Florida soils since flat cultivation is not
practiced here. (This is a New Jersey photograph secured from Federal
Bureau of Agricultural Economics.) It is used to show young, growing
inches in the soil along the one side of and about 2 inches from
the row of plants, and then repeating the operation within a
few days on the opposite side. This operation is really one of
root-pruning. It causes new roots to develop in a cluster near
the plant and assists materially in establishing it when trans-
planted. The plants should be allowed a few days to recover
from the "blocking" process before they are removed from-the
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
bed. Then by taking plenty of soil and keeping the roots well
protected and moist they scarcely suffer any set back during the
Unless some system of irrigation is practiced, it may be neces-
sary to haul water and water the newly set plants. One of the
serious mistakes so often made is the failure to firm the soil
about the roots of the plant. A little water applied at this time
does this very effectively.
The plants should be spaced from about 24 to 3W inches in the
rows, and the rows should be from 36 to 40 inches apart. Avoid
crowding, since it tends to reduce the size of the curd.
There are no experimental data regarding fertilizer practices
in Florida. However, considerable has been learned through
the experiences of those who have grown cauliflower in the state.
Differences in soil types, together with rotation and cover crops,
influence the amounts and kinds of fertilizers used.
An abundance of barnyard manure seems most desirable in
the production of good cauliflower, and for this reason dairying
makes a satisfactory companion industry. In addition to the
organic matter supplied by manure and cover crops, consider-
able plant food must be supplied by commercial fertilizers.
Like cabbage, cauliflower is hard on land as shown both from
experience of growers and from experiments conducted in other
slates. In many of the cabbage-producing states of the North,
nitrogen has been found to be the limiting factor in production.
Fig. 3. Healthy, rapid-growing cauliflower. Such growth is necessary, as
large plants are required to produce large heads. This is a northern field;
picture furnished by the U. S. D. A.
CAULIFLOWER PRODUCTION 1 9
There are practically no experimental data regarding the best
fertilizer practices for the varied soil types of Florida. But
good cauliflower and broccoli have been produced by using from
/ 1,500 to 2,000 pounds to the acre of a 5-7-5 combination. ApplyI
about half of this prior to transplanting and use the remainder
Sa a sid diring-about-six weeks late-.-: 7 "-- ---"
S/ On soils naturally deficient in organic matter and nitrogen, )
it may be advisable to make a side dressing of 150 pounds to the
acre of nitrate of soda or sulphate of ammonia just as the plants
become well established. ---. ....
| Eac grower must-wafch his crop and be governed by the wa
e crop behaves, so far as fertilizer practices-are concerned.
There are few cr ops of which market requirements are so
strict as with cauliflower. The curd must be pure white, com-
pact, and of uniform size and texture. Some varieties have a
small amount of foliage to protect the curd from the sun. Ex-
posed curds become discolored which is very objectionable. Just
prior to the development of the curd, it is advisable to tie the
surrounding outer leaves so as to protect the curd. Usually it
is necessary to go over the field to tie up the leaves several times,
since all the curds do not develop at once. In order to identify
the oldest "heads" at harvesting time, different colored strings
may be used at each tying date.
Sometimes the leaves are broken so as to shade the heads with-
out the necessity of tying. This method is usually not satis-
factory, since the wind may displace the leaves. Furthermore
decay may begin in the broken tissue and damage the curds.
The time required for curd formation after tying depends
almost entirely on the temperature. In warm weather only two
or three days are required. With cool weather persisting, it
may take two weeks or more for curd development and blanch-
Some varieties of cauliflower and broccoli are sufficiently
protected so that tying is not required to blanch the curds.
HARVESTING AND PACKING
A high-wheeled cart that will straddle the row of cauliflower
is very convenient in removing the curds from the field to the
packing shed. (See figure 4.) Heads are cut, trimmed and
thrown on the cart. In trimming, a sufficient number of jacket
leaves are left to serve as a protection to the curd in packing.
The field must be gone over every few days to prevent the heads
from over-ripening. Cutting must be done when the heads are
most compact, especially when the distance to market is great.
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The size that the heads attain is directly proportional to the
size of the plants. Small plants will produce only small heads,
irrespective of the time they remain in the field. It is necessary,
therefore, to judge maturity by condition of the curd, regard-
less of the size thereof.
Fig. 4. Excellent type of cart for hauling cauliflower, as well as other
similar vegetables, from the field to the packing shed.
In general, there is little danger in cutting too early, but
over-mature heads rapidly deteriorate in quality, and an over-
mature head may seriously reduce the returns of an entire ship-
ment. Such heads are very conspicuous for the leaves are
spread, due to increased growth, thus exposing the curd propor-
tionately much greater than in those heads that are in prime
condition. Young curds, right for harvesting, are more or less
concealed within their leafy jackets. So in case some of the
heads become over-mature, due to warm weather or lack of
labor, it is much better to accept that loss and cut only the
prime heads for market.
Sometimes it is possible to avert loss to some extent by cut-
ting the mature heads and turning them upside down in the
field. During dry weather they can remain in the field a short
time. This will check growth and prevent their over-maturity.
Grading: All perishable produce, such as cauliflower which
is naturally subject to rapid deterioration, must be handled
without delay and with care. Appearance, based upon uni-
formity, quality, maturity and upon the package itself, usually
determines the price of cauliflower.
The "pony" flats or crates are used almost exclusively for
cauliflower and broccoli. Only a single layer of heads are
CAULIFLOWER PRODUCTION 11
packed in such crates, the curds up. The jacket leaves are cut
so as to protect the curds, and serve also to give a bulge to the
package. The three narrow slats are nailed across the heads.
In loading, the crates are inverted to prevent ice water from
running down into the curds.
Loading: It is necessary to put ice around the crates as well
as in the bunkers. The so-called "pigeon hole" method of load-
ing provides for this quite satisfactorily. It takes 480 pony
Fig. 5. Trimming and packing cauliflower. This is the standard crate.
crates to fill a car. The third and fifth layers from the bottom
are but four crates wide; the intervening spaces are filled with
ice. Bracing is, of course, necessary to prevent slipping. Ice is
also placed on top of the load, the amount depending upon the
distance to market and the prevailing temperatures.
It is assumed that cauliflower has been derived from broccoli,
they are so closely related. The latter is much more hardy,
has a longer growing season, and its head is better protected
by the foliage against sun and frost than that of cauliflower.
There are two distinct types of broccoli, the sprouting and
the heading. This heading type is very similar to the true
cauliflower. Italian Green Sprouting seems to do well in Flor-
ida. Of the heading or cauliflower broccolis, the St. Valentine
and Black are familiar varieties and are not vastly different
from the true cauliflower. The most familiar early varieties of
the true cauliflower are Snowball and Dwarf Erfurt. Later-
maturing varieties are Dry Weather, Pearl and Veitch's Autumn
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Defects: There are certain undesirable characteristics of
broccoli and cauliflower. These the grower should be able to
recognize, so that he may guard against the entrance into crates
of heads from such plants.
One of the most serious defects is that of over-maturity which
has already been considered. (See figure 6.) The carrying
quality, as well as the marketability, is so greatly affected by
this defect that every head showing only a slight spreading of
curds should be discarded.
There is a condition of the curd that is referred to as "rici-
ness." In this case the curds take on a granular appearance,
and lose some of their compactness. While riciness is not as
objectionable as over-maturity, it is frowned upon in the mar-
kets, and the price reflects the degree of disfavor.
There are two chief causes of ricey curds. These are: 1.
Too warm weather at heading time; and, 2, poor seed. Both of
these may be obviated to some extent by selecting planting
dates so that heading may be done during normally cool
COMPACT LIGHTLY PREADO BAODLV SPREAD
Fig. 6. These three cauliflower heads excellently illustrate the result of
weather. Good dependable seed known to be adapted to certain
environments is not so readily secured. In fact, Florida's
climate seems too erratic for most of the cauliflower varieties
tried so far. Occasionally a crop of good quality has been pro-
cured when everything was especially favorable. On the whole
the sprouting broccolis seem better suited to Florida conditions
than cauliflower or the heading broccolis.
Another type of defect is known as "yellow leaf." It has
been definitely shown that this trouble is dependent upon the
temperatures to which the heads are subjected after they are
cut. The nearer freezing the temperature can be held around
the heads, the less danger there is from yellowing.
"Leafy head" is another defect in which small leaves appear
within the curd. Poor seed is generally thought to be respon-
sible, although a certain percentage of such heads may appear
in fields planted to excellent seed strains.
Black Rot: This is the most destructive disease of cabbage
in Florida and in case large areas are planted to cauliflower and
broccoli, it will, in all probability, be an important factor in the
economic production of these crops. It is caused by a soil in-
habiting bacterium, Bacterium ojmpestris.
Infection takes place either through the roots or leaves. If
in the latter, the leaf margins are first affected and the presence
of the disease is first exhibited by a yellowing of the leaf margin,
the veins showing dark brown to black. The yellowish areas
spread rapidly inward toward the midrib. From the midrib it
may spread to other leaves and to the head. This spreading
continues until the leaves successively fall off, leaving the head
exposed on a long bare shank.
Where the disease organisms enter through the roots, they
cause a dwarfing 'or a one-sided growth of the plant in mild
cases. In extreme cases the head may fail to form or the plant
One may confuse the ill-smelling soft rot of cabbage or cauli-
flower with black rot. The former is really caused by the en-
trance of other organisms. One of the best ways to detect the
presence of black rot is to cut across the stalk or stump of the
plant. If black rot is present, it will show as a brown or black
Control: Four control measures are suggested to the grower.
these are outlined below. However, to a certain extent all
should be followed, at least as far as practicable. Any one
method might fail, but if all are used there is every reason to
believe that control .will be effective.
1. Seed treatment is most important. Do this with a solution
cf mercuric chloride and water (1 to 1000). Soak the seed for
30 minutes, then rinse well and spread out to dry. The bacteria
which cause this disease may be carried on the seed. If the
seed are properly treated, danger from black rot is not so great.
2. A clean seedbed is just as important as clean seed. Either
select a new piece of ground for the seedbed or render it sterile
by the use of live steam or by soaking it with formaldehyde.
3. Crop rotation will go a long way toward reducing black
rot to the minimum. Cabbage, cauliflower or any of the other
members of the cabbage family should not be grown on the same
land oftener than once in every four or five years, if black rot is
known or suspected of being present.
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
4. Field sanitation is an important point in preventing black
rot. Any plant refuse from a field affected by black rot should
be kept from other fields. Pull and burn infected plants as
soon as they show symptoms of the disease. Since insects carry
the bacteria from infected to non-infected plants, they should
be kept under control. Do not feed diseased plants to stock, as
the manure may be a means of spreading the disease to other
Black Leg: This disease is caused by a fungus (Phoma lin-
gam). It is carried on the seed and remains in the soil from
one to two years.
The first symptoms of the disease may appear in the seedbed
where the young seedlings show dark, sunken, irregular areas
on the stems just above the ground. These spots enlarge until
they girdle the plants, causing them to wilt and die. Wilting
is a characteristic of the advanced stage of the disease, whether
in the seedbed or in the field. Often the leaves assume a pur-
plish tint prior to wilting. Diseased areas are covered with
small pimple-like protuberances (pycnidia) which contain the
spores of the causative fungus.
Warm weather and high
humidity together with
flooding from any cause
favors the development and
S= spread of the disease, in that
these agencies favor the
growth and spread of the
spores of the fungus. The
4 *presence of root maggots in-
creases the spread of and
.destructiveness of the fun-
Control: Three sugges-
tions are offered for the
control or prevention of this
Fig. 7. Cauliflower head s h o w i n g trouble. They follow in
brown rot, caused in this case by Al- their proper order:
ternaria brossicae. Brown rot is one
of the most serious diseases of this Crop rotation is essen-
vegetable. tial. The same seedbed
should not be used twice in
succession, and the same field should not be planted to any
members of the cabbage family more often than once in three
2. Field sanitation is more important than the attention
given it would indicate. Destroy refuse from all crops of the
cabbage family, if the presence of the disease is suspected. Live
steam or formaldehyde properly used to sterilize the seedbed,
will render it disease-free.
3. Treating the seed by placing them in hot water for 30
minutes at a temperature of 122, Fahrenheit, will kill the
spores. Cool and dry the seed as quickly as possible. However,
this treatment reduces the percentage of germination of seed
and must be performed with extreme care.
There is some evidence to show that black leg can be effectively
checked by sprinkling the young seedlings of cauliflower while
still standing in the seedbed three or four times with corrosive
sublimate (1 to 1000). This is an effective treatment also
against root maggots.
Brown Rot is primarily associated with transit and storage
where temperatures are allowed to get too high in the presence
of high humidity. The cauliflower head becomes spotted with
brownish areas, which renders it unmarketable.
As a rule the disease is not troublesome in the field, especially
where the control measures recommended for black rot are car-
ried out. At the packing shed discard heads showing any dis-
coloration. Do not permit the temperature of the refrigerator
cars to go above 420, Fahrenheit.
There are a number of other diseases which affect plants of
the cabbage group in other parts of the United States. How-
ever, they are as yet unknown or of very minor importance in
Florida and will not be discussed here.
Aphis: The common plant louse or aphis occurs wherever
cabbage and cauliflower are grown. During periods of dry
warm weather, it may do much damage in a very short time.
These tiny insects live chiefly on the under side of leaves, suck-
ing'juices of the plant. This causes the leaves to curl, inci-
dentally making control more difficult.
Control: Spraying with a liquid spray made up of equal
parts of nicotine sulphate, fish-oil soap and water is quite ef-
fective where the spray comes in contact with the insects. The
use of an oxidized mineral oil derivative in place of the fish-oil
soap has recently been found by the Florida Experiment Station
to increase the effectiveness of the nicotine sulphate by at least
one-third. In other words, effective kills are made where from
1/2 to to 2/3 of the amount of nicotine is used in connection with
this commercial preparation as compared to the amounts recom-
mended for use with fish-oil soap.
Dusting with a nicotine sulphate dust made up of 95 pounds
of hydrated lime and 5 pounds of 40 percent nicotine sulphate
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
has some advantage over the liquid spray. It can be blown
into and around the plants so that the fumes may reach the
insects. Machines for dusting are not so heavy to handle and
move around as are those for spraying liquids, which renders
the latter impossible or impracticable in some places.
If the fields are carefully inspected at frequent intervals, it is
often possible to prevent a severe outbreak of aphis by spot
dusting the plants which first show infestation. By using a
hood over the plants the effectiveness of the dust can be in-
creased many times. Everywhere the power duster is used,
employ the same principle to reduce air dilution of the dust.
There are a number of natural enemies which assist in con-
trolling aphis outbreaks. Among them are predacious insect
pests, some of the best known being the lady-bird beetles and
syrphus-fly larvae. There are parasitic bacteria and fungi that
are most effective in moist warm weather. A hard driving rain
is often most beneficial in ridding a field of these insect pests.
Wild plants belonging to the cabbage family should be kept out
of the fields and fence rows.
When the plants are removed from the seedbed, it may be
desirable to dip them in a nicotine sulphate solution prior to
transplanting. This will prevent carrying the aphis into the
field. Some tight container should be used in which to put the
plants until they are planted.
Cabbage Worm: On cauliflower the chief damage done by
the cabbage worm is to the leaves. The eggs from which they
hatch are laid singly on either surface of the leaves. At first
they are greenish yellow in color; later they become lemon-
yellow. The eggs hatch in from three to ten days. The larvae
begin feeding at once on the plant tissue.
Control: When eggs are observed on the plants, it is time
to cover the foliage with lead arsenate or some other arsenical.
There is no danger in using such poisons, if used prior to the
development of the curd. A good spray consists of 11/2 pounds
of powdered lead arsenate, 1 pound of soap and 50 gallons of
water. The soap acts merely as a spreader.
Dusting is just as effective when the leaf surface is covered.
Use 1 pound of powdered lead arsenate to 10 pounds of air-
slaked lime, or gypsum.
There are a few important insect parasites which are often
very effective in controlling the cabbage worm. One of these
is a small wasp-like braconid fly imported from England in
1883. The small chalcis fly is quite an effective natural agent
of control also.
The Cabbage Looper, for all practical purposes a minor pest,
is controlled by the same methods suggested for the control of
the cabbage worm.
Harlequin Cabbage Bug: This pest is chiefly troublesome in
the southern states, having originated in Mexico or Central
America. It is serious in Florida. Both adult and young suck
the juice of the plants which then turn yellow, wilt and die.
The bugs are very conspicuous, being jet black, marked with
red or orange. They are hardy and in Florida are active almost
Control: The Harlequin bug is well protected by a hard
smooth coat. Consequently contact sprays are not so effective
against it. Hand picking of the adults and destroying the egg
masses are helpful. In cases where there is danger of heavy
infestation, a trap crop of some quick-growing member of the
cabbage family should be grown. Such a crop as kale or rape
could be planted a few weeks prior to the cauliflower crop.
Plants and bugs then perish together by spraying with pure
In preparing this bulletin frequent, reference has been made
to "Truck Crop Plants" by Jones & Rosa, "Vegetable Crops"
by Thompson, and "Vegetable Growing" by Knott.
Also the author has received much valuable help from Prof.
M. R. Ensign, assistant horticulturist of the Florida Experi-
ment Station. Besides offering many very worth while sug-
gestions, he read and criticised the manuscript.
Because of the particular season (summer) when the material
for this bulletin was prepared, it was impossible to secure ade-
quate illustrations of cauliflower culture in Florida. There-
fore, it was necessary to turn to other sources. The Bureau of
Agricultural Economics, United States Department of Agri-
culture, contributed nearly all of those used.