How to improve storage quality and shelf life of vegetable brassica

Crop nutrition influences characteristics such as dry matter, cell wall strength and moisture control which all affect storage quality and shelf life of all brassica vegetables.

Compared to other vegetable crops, cauliflower and broccoli are extremely perishable and should be stored for relatively short periods. Leafy brassicas are less demanding in terms of harvest timing. Here, leaf nutrition is the key: ensuring good green, strong plants will help secure good quality and a long shelf life.

 

Nitrogen excess can lead to storage problems

Nitrogen is important for yield, but if optimum rates are exceeded it can have a negative impact on storage quality.

Effect of nitrogen rate on cabbage dry matter

Excess nitrogen can result in low dry matter content – which reduces the storage quality of cabbage, and can lead to greater disease in the stored crop, particularly in susceptible varieties.

Potassium ensures a more marketable crop

Adequate potassium supply ensures a more marketable crop and with a healthy longer shelf life and less moisture loss during storage.

Effect of potassium on cabbage rots

Effect of potassium on cauliflower storage

The form of potassium can also influence storage with SOP (sulphate of potash - potassium sulphate) leading to higher dry matter than MOP (muriate of potash - potassium chloride).

Effect of potassium form on cabbage dry matter

 

Calcium helps form strong cell walls

Calcium is probably the third most important nutrient needed by brassicas and has an important role in maintaining crop quality.

Calcium is responsible for the structural and physiological stability of plant tissue. It helps form strong cell walls and is vital to cell membrane integrity, both of which are important to achieve improved storage and longer shelf life.

Effect of calcium on cabbage marketable yield

 

Typical disorders caused by calcium deficiency include tip burn on leaves, glassiness of cauliflower curds and internal browning in Brussels sprouts

Magnesium helps ensure healthy leaves

Magnesium improves brassica crop storage characteristics. Effect of magnesium on cauliflower storage quality

Magnesium uptake can be depressed by an excess of other cations (K+; NH4+; Ca2+), so it is important to maintain a correct balance to avoid compromising Mg uptake. Magnesium salts (e.g. carbonate, nitrate and sulphate) are more soluble than calcium salts but also more prone to leaching losses. Foliar sprays can be used to correct acute deficiencies.

Sulphur improves dry matter content

Sulphur also has a major role to play in brassica crop quality.

As seen above, application of sulphur in the form of SOP (potassium sulphate or sulphate of potash) increases dry matter content of white cabbage, which gives better storage quality.

Effect of sulphur on cabbage dry matter

Vegetable brassica agronomy and fertiliser advice
Vegetable brassica agronomy and fertiliser advice

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