Cabbage farming is not very popular in Nigeria because of the belief that it will not do well except in a place like Plateau State. But quite recently a group of aggressive farmers have come out to prove this notion wrong.
There are few persons from the south-east and west that have actually experimented on it and have proven it to be true, that cabbage can be planted anywhere in Nigeria with optimum success.
READ ALSO: How To Start Garden Egg Farming In Nigeria
Cabbage is a leafy vegetable from the family of Brassica. It is the head that is mostly eaten while the leaves are either cut out (dispose), use for compost manure, use in the feeding of animals etc. It grows better in a cool moist environment; the temperature is between 55-60 F. They are some species that accepts temperature within 20-25F.
The growing of cabbage began with the early Greek and Romans and has from there spread to the UK and other continents.
In Africa especially in Nigeria, for you to find out or know exactly if cabbage consumption is high, is during festive periods such Christmas, Sallah etc.
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Cabbage is mostly used in salad preparation, food decoration, vegetables for soup/pottage and can as well be eaten raw. It contains calcium which is very good for human health. They are very helpful in the development of snails.
In this article we shall be looking at the kind of soil good for cabbage farming, when to irrigate, pest and disease control, weeding, harvesting and marketability.
THE TECHNIQUES TO USE ARE
- Chose sandy-loam soil rich in organic matter
- Plant when the weather is favourable mostly during raining season
- First of all plant them in a nursery before transferring to the main field
- Use a very good variety as this can make or mar your success
- At best plant hybrid cabbage for better yield, quick maturity and disease/pest resistance
- Apply fertilizer at every stage of their development, organic manure is preferable
- Harvest early to avoid yellowing or botching of the leaves
Cabbage can be grow on any soil but a well compost sandy-loam is preferable for their utmost performance. Get a land and clear it from every weed and shrub that are not needed.
Use tractor to loosen the land (for a large farm, otherwise shovel can be used on a small farm) if the soil is very hard it can be ploughed for about 3 times during the third ploughing animal dung should be added to the soil in readiness for planting.
Prepare bed for the seedlings by missing equal amount of soil with the organic manure to be used.
Dig a hole of 2-3cm deep and insert 2 seeds inside and cover lightly. You can use nursery bags, sack bags and surface rubbers in raising the seedlings. Transplant the seedlings to the main field you are using for cabbage farming after 3-4 weeks. They should be 14-16cm high at this time or when they show 4-5 leaves.
The spacing should be 45cm apart and the rows 45-60cm apart. Their spacing also depends on the type of variety you are planting. Early cabbage takes 50-70 days, mid-season cabbage takes 70-90 days while late season takes 90-125 days.
Prior to when you should plant the crop, water the beds vigorously to ensure that, there is enough moisture in the soil to establish the plant. Transplant the seedlings in the evening or when the weather is cold in other to prevent them from scotch and shock from the heat.
The soil P.H should be between 6.5-7.5. Cabbage seed takes about 5-17 days to germinate, the germination days varies for different varieties.
IRRIGATION/MULCHING IN CABBAGE FARMING
Irrigation should be done on a regular basis as cabbage requires a minimum of 3.8cm of water on a weekly basis. Drip irrigation is highly recommended. Cabbage cannot withstand drought so if you cannot water the farm especially during shortage of rain. Or during dry season don’t bother starting cabbage farming at all.
During the time of intense heat water them morning and evening every day. But you can select days to water them during raining season except it rains every day. When the plants are matured you stop watering in other to prevent botching.
Use compost to mulch the farm in other to keep the soil moist and to avoid excessive loss of water. It will also help in weed control and in the addition of nutrients to the soil.
Cabbage plants are heavy feeders just like garden egg and onions as such manure should be applied at every stage of their development while being careful on the kind of manure to apply in those stages.
The first manure you applied during soil preparation should be heavy (plenty). After 3 weeks of transplanting you apply and also apply again when the start bringing out new leaves.
Finally, apply manure when the start developing heads so that they can form well such that will carry them until harvest. The manure to apply at this time should have more of potassium because they are good in plant formations.
PEST/DISEASES OF CABBAGE
The commonest pesticides are cabbage white, flea beetles, maggots, imported cabbage worms, loopers etc. While the commonest diseases are Fusarium yellows, club root, black speck, rot; fungal disease that builds in the soil.
SOLUTION; Plant resistant variety and practice crop rotation.
Splitting; this can occur after heavy down pour or when irrigation is done immediately after serious stress from drought. To salvage the situation cut some of the roots from one side about 25cm into the soil from the base of the plant using a spade.
Another reason for splitting is when they are overcrowded, so, by all means, give good spacing to the plant.
We have the early season varieties, mid-season varieties and the late season varieties. Most importantly are the hybrid varieties such as Thai cabbage, F1 cabbage from Technism etc. They can be harvested in a shorter time some 2 months or so, can withstand harsh conditions and can resist some diseases like the Fusarium etc.
- Kaitlin; it forms smallish green heads.
- Danish ball head; it is for all-purpose
- Storage No. H; it has beautiful deep green heads.
- Chinese (Napa) cabbage 50-70 days
- Speciality cabbage etc.
They all need a good amount of sunlight to grow, at least 6 hours in a day. Cabbage can be planted alongside cucumbers, beans, carrot but not with cauliflower, strawberries, broccoli or tomatoes.
Cabbage is harvested when they are fully matured in other to stay longer in storage. They are not like pepper, eggplant and tomatoes that can be harvested before fully attaining formation. It is ready for harvest in about 2-5 months. The yield will depend on variety but a hectare can yield 70-80 tonnes or more if all agronomic conditions are fully applied.
Harvest them when the heads are fully matured and firm. Or when the heads are closed up and the leaves wrapped around them are still in good shape. You can press the fruit with your hands to know if it is strong; a loose and soft head is yet to mature. If you allow the leaves to become yellowish or blotch it can’t stay long in the storage.
Use a knife to cut the head from the base of the plant and leave about 3 leaves that will help protect the head from bruises, abrasions or damage of any kind. The remaining stem in the soil will continue developing while you keep on harvesting them just like in lettuce and waterleaf.
Wash them after harvest in other to remove insects and dirt before putting them away for storage.
Locate market men and women and sell to them. Let people around you know that you are into cabbage farming and you will see them coming down on their own to buy.
Sell to salad shops, supermarkets and shopping malls that are into foodstuff selling, hotels, restaurants etc.
Advertise in online stores for more sales.
HOW TO GET CABBAGE SEED
Exposed the cabbage plant to high temperature when the start forming seeds this will cause them to bolt, then seeds can be formed as they will not be able to form heads.
Fertilize with phosphorus for a good head, when there is too much nitrogen in the soil they might not grow heads.
Store them in a cold place, it can last for about 3 months in storage. You can wrap the half use ones properly in a polyethylene bag put it in the fridge and it will last for about 2 weeks or more.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO INTO CABBAGE FARMING
It is very easy to plant and manage
It does not require huge capital to start, it can be planted anywhere; in the garden, backyard and in the field
You can lease land to cultivate them since it can be harvested within a year, you can then source for another place.
The demand for cabbage is high as such there is need to breach the gap
People are not many that are into farming cabbage for a commercial purpose
cabbage farming business is highly profitable and lucrative. It is sold at a higher price than any other vegetable.
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