Why cabbages burst before full maturity
The cabbage is a popular vegetable in Kenyan homes that has multiple health benefits.
Cabbages can help prevent cancer, reduce heart disease risk, improve digestion and lower blood cholesterol.
They can be enjoyed steamed, fried or raw and served with almost every meal.
Cabbages mature fast and are generally easy to manage.
The most popular varieties in Kenya according to informationcradle.com. are Gloria F1 hybrid, Copenhagen and the golden acre.
The cabbage heads are mature and ready for harvest when they become firm to the touch and press.
This is usually three to four months after transplanting depending on the variety notes the graduatefarmer.co.ke
One problem farmers experience is cracking of cabbage heads just before maturity.
Cracked heads should be harvested soon as they have a shorter shelf life.
Online publication graduatefarmer.co.ke notes that cracked cabbage heads cannot be resolved once it happens but it can, however, be avoided and prevented.
Cracked cabbage heads lead to farm losses as customers are not likely to buy the cracked cabbages.
Cracking of cabbages is caused by the uneven growth during the dry conditions where the cabbage growth starts from a smaller tighthead then suddenly due to heavy rains or watering close to the maturity increases internal water pressure inside the cabbage head causes it to burst open.
It is also caused by a farmer adding fertilizer later in the cabbage growth instead of during its early stages as the head forms. This speeds up the maturity late where the cabbage results in bursting mostly due to nitrogen fluctuations.
The other reason is due to continuous watering of cabbages when they are fully mature as they continue to grow in size, thus a farmer is advised to cut down on the water as harvesting approaches.
Solutions or remedies to avoid bursting of cabbage heads include watering cabbages evenly throughout the early growth period to avoid uneven growth later in case of heavy rainfall.
The soil should be kept evenly moist during the early growth period.
Mulching also comes in handy as it keeps the soil moist by keeping the roots cool and reducing evaporation.
As a farmer, you should reduce fertiliser application once the cabbage heads start getting firm.
It is advisable to avoid or reduce on nitrogen-rich fertilisers to prevent over fertilisation.
Mature cabbages should be harvested on time and not left on the farm to overgrow.
A farmer can also prune off a few roots when the heads are moderately firm notes gardeningknowhow.com which help reduce water intake or amount of moisture the plant absorbs.
Another way to break off a few roots is to carefully grab the head firmly with both hands and pull up or give the head a one-quarter turn adds gardeningknowhow.com
A farmer should also plant on time to avoid the onset of rains when harvesting is approaching.
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