Overwintering Cauliflower for Spring Harvest (1977-1978)

Twelve lines of cauliflower were direct-seeded on July 13, 1977, with the purpose of overwintering several European cultivars for spring harvest. In addition some other lines were included for comparison. Lines or varieties were as follows: M1, M2, M3, and M4 from Moran Seed Co., Snow Crown from Harris Seed Co., Armado April, Armado May, Armado Quick, Armado Tardo, June, and Markanta Walcherin from Elsoms Seeds Ltd., and Pinnacle from Asmer Seed Co. Plot size was 24 row feet containing about 25 plants.


The seedbed was rototilled in early July, and 1 ton/acre dolomite, 1,000 pounds/acre of 10-20-10, and 1 pound/acre of boron were broadcast and incorporated. Trifluralin at 0.75 pounds/acre and dyfonate at 2.0 pounds/ acre were incorporated into the top three inches of soil. No other weed or insect control measures were needed except for one shallow cultivation in October and application of 0.5 pounds/acre of diazinon on February 2, 1978. Seedlings were thinned to about 12 inches within-row spacing on September 1. Between-row spacing was 42 inches. Irrigation by overhead sprinkler was used as needed through September. An additional 225 pounds/acre of ammonium nitrate was applied on February 2, 1978. First harvest of overwinter types was on March 16, 1978. Snow Crown and the Moran lines headed in November and December and no yield data were taken.


Table 2. Yield of overwinter cauliflower varieties, spring 1978              Cultivar         Total yield  EstimatedY    Head size   MeanZ   Harvest span                     lb/plot    tons/acre      lb/head    grade                Armado April        41.5         10.8           1.9      1.3    3/22 - 4/05   Armado May          35.0          9.1           1.1      1.5    3/31 - 4/12   Armado Quick        46.0         11.9           2.2      1.05   3/16 - 3/31   Armado Tardo        34.0          8.8           1.4      1.4    3/31 - 4/17   June                19.9          5.2           1.0      2.1    4/17 - 5/08   Markanta Walcherin  36.9          9.6           1.3      1.6    3/31 - 4/12   Pinnacle            28.0          7.3           1.1      1.7    4/12 - 5/08  ZGrade 1 = 1.0 pound minimum (4.5 inch diameter), tight, free of defects.    Grade 2 = less than 1 pound or overmature, ricey, discolored, etc.    Grade 3 = combination of small size and severe defects.  YYield/acre estimated by scaling up results from these 84 square foot plots.  


Armado April and Armado Quick were of highest overall quality with excellent head size, color, firmness, and flavor. However, texture after freezing is somewhat poorer than most fall-harvested varieties, with a tendency toward mushiness (easy to overcook).

April and Quick also had the least variability in head size with about 80 percent of heads falling within 25 percent of the mean. All other varieties produced smaller (average) center heads and one to several small side heads, greatly resembling sprouting broccoli in this respect. Part of the high quality rating of April and Quick may be due to their early harvest, prior to onset of warmer weather and insect and disease problems.

All varieties were adequately self-blanching, particularly the Markanta Walcherin. The plants survived temperatures to 21°F and one severe ice storm in which a half-inch layer of ice broke off the oldest leaves. Quality of June was totally unacceptable because of a tendency to riciness and formation of leaves in the heads.