Cabbage is a common vegetable that grows especially well in fertile and well-drained soils. The increasing demand for vegetables has contributed to the growing popularity of this crop, particularly in the urban areas. For the grower keen on maximizing cabbage production, knowledge of major cabbage pests and diseases and their control is essential. Growing requirements Soils: For optimal growth, cabbages require well drained soils with a pH of 5.6 to 6.4. Loamy, black cotton and alluvial soils are best suited for this crop.
Climate: The crop does well in cooler climates with adequate and well distributed rains. It can also flourish under irrigation in the lower altitudes.
Weeding: The crop should be kept free of weeds especially in its younger stages to avoid losses due competition from weeds; which can also be a source of pests and should be controlled at all times. Spacing: A 60cm by 60cm spacing is recommended. The further apart you plant the cabbage, the larger the head will develop.
- Always transplant with a ball of soil to avoid shocking the plant.
Fertilizer Application: To arrive at the exact amount of nutrients that should be applied to meet the crop’s requirements a number of factors need to be considered: the nutrient level in the soil and rocks; nutrients that can be derived from previous crop residues; timing of nutrient application, for crops to make best use of the fertilizers; Soil type: this affects fertilizer use efficiency. There’s 70 percent efficiency in light sand soils, 60 percent in medium, clay, silty, organic and peaty soils and 55 percent efficiency in shallow soils over chalk and limestone. 5. Estimation of nutrients gained from use of organic manures 6. Nutrients that must be replaced in order to maintain the soil index level 7. The sources and cost involved in deciding the particular fertilizer one needs to produce required nutrients
Water Management: Ample soil moisture is necessary throughout the growing season to produce good cabbage. Irrigation is especially important when planting during the dry spell; this helps the young plants withstand the intense sunlight and heat and supplies the developing heads with sufficient water to develop quickly.
Key Pests and disease Management: Proper identification of pests and diseases is an important step in controlling them. Wrong diagnosis will lead to wrong interventions resulting in increased losses and costs. If in doubt, check with a qualified crop protection specialist. Common cabbage pests include Diamond Back Moth (DBM), aphids, while common diseases include Black Rot, Fusarium Ringspot. General pest and disease control measures: • Practice crop rotation. Do not include crops of the same family in the rotation sequence because of nematodes and other pests and diseases • Plant certified disease-free seed treated with an approved fungicide to control seed rots and post emergence damping off
- Observe field hygiene; remove the old crop from the fields, control weeds and crop debris since these are source of pests and diseases. Use of seed trays for planting, which also greatly reduces seed wastage
Crop production practices: Ensure proper crop production practices that provide the right growing conditions for plants (sufficient water and balanced fertilization), particularly when crops are young. Strong healthy plants are more likely to withstand pests and diseases. • Ensure regular crop scouting for pests and diseases as well as weeds, irrigation management and nutrient deficiencies. This helps in detecting problems early and applying control measures on time.
Harvesting Cabbage: They can be harvested anytime after the heads form. For highest yield, cut the cabbage heads when they are solid (firm to hand pressure) but before they crack or split. When heads are mature, a sudden heavy rain may cause them to crack or split wide open. The exposed internal tissue soon becomes unusable. Harvest and salvage split heads as soon as possible