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Four varieties of cauliflower were grown at the Horticulture Research Center(HRC) outside of Fort Collins, Colorado during the 2004 growing season. We grew one spring crop which was started in the greenhouse on March 29th. Seeds were planted into 72-cell trays filled with Sunshine No. 3 brand soil mix and topped with vermiculite to aid in keeping the seeds moist. Seedlings were fertilized once a week with fish emulsion fertilizer fed through an injector. They were transplanted at the HRC on May 18th into beds with 30″ centers, in a single row at 18″ spacing with one line of drip tape. Heads were blanched by wrapping a rubber band around the outer leaves. Below are photos, yield data, and production notes for each of the varieties. This year was relatively cool (see our Study Area information) and a better year for cauliflower production than most.

Cauliflower is a tricky crop to grow in this region due to its tendency to lose quality if a stretch of hot weather sets in. Fall crops are most reliable, with harvest targets in mid/late September. Like all brassicas, transplants or row covers are needed to avoid losses caused by flea beetles to seedlings. Caterpillars are the other primary pest. Attention to head development is critical as harvest approaches so that the heads don’t yellow or bolt. Self blanching varieties produce wrapper leaves that blanch the head, but tying leaves over the head is still advised.

Purple cauliflower is a nice novelty, and there is no need to blanch the heads! Try growing in dense planting for “baby” size. Romanesco cauliflower has an interesting shape, but there is a lack of market acceptance to date.

Yield Data
Production Notes
1.4 lbs/head

(n=28 heads)

97% germination, well adapted to our climate, excellent plant uniformity, 2-3 harvests, large plant size, compact head shape, large head size, excellent overall rating, needs to be blanched, high vigor, quality, and marketability, medium pest resistance, two harvests (August 3rd and 6th).
1.9 lbs/head

(n=18 heads)

97% germination, well adapted, excellent uniformity, 2-3 harvests, medium plant size, compact head shape, large head size, white head color, excellent overall rating, moderately self blanching, nice head shape and color, high vigor, quality, and marketability, and medium pest resistance, one harvest (August 3rd)
0.9 lbs/head

(n=18 heads)

97% germination, acceptable adaptability, good uniformity but requires multiple harvests, large plant size, variable head shape, medium head size, purple color, overall rating good, vigorous plants, medium yield, medium pest resisitance, high marketability for unusual veggies,multiple harvests within the plot from July 29th to September 3rd (not multiple harvests/plant) original intent to produce crop as baby cauliflower but produced nice med. sized head
Veronica (Romanesco)
0.9 lbs/head

(n=28 heads)

97% germination, very well adapted, excellent uniformity, 2-3 harvests, could maybe do 1, large plant size, cone shaped medium head, green color, fair overall rating due to limited marketability, attractive though and unique, high vigor and quality, medium pest resistance, one harvest (August 12th)

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