Cole Crops

Crop Quality Issues: Heading to Harvest

  • Broccoli brown bead
  • Broccoli head rot
  • Calcium deficiency (cauliflower)
  • Cracked stem
  • Hollow stem (broccoli)
  • Systemic downy mildew
  • White stem (broccoli)
Click on photos to enlarge. Names link to more information on identification and management.
Broccoli with symptoms of brown bud.

Broccoli brown bead

Identification tips: Flower buds of broccoli turn brown as heads mature. Usually associated with warm temperatures.

Photo not available

Broccoli head rot

Identification tips: Look for water-soaked or greasy discoloration of unopened flowers that later turn brown or black. Bacterial infections will cause tissue to become soft and have a bad odor. Head rot is favored by cool temperatures and prolonged periods of moisture.

Photo not available

Calcium deficiency in cauliflower

Identification tips: Look for hooking of young leaves and sever collapse of tissues. Inner wrapper leaves enclosing the cauliflower head turn tan to light brown. This condition, also called tipburn, is favored by warm temperatures, high moisture, and high fertilization.

Photo not available

Cracked stem

Identification tips: The stems of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be hollow and are sometimes discolored. Cracked and corky stems, petioles and midribs develop, most likely the result of a boron deficiency.

Hollow stem damage caused by rapid growth disorder.

Hollow stem

Identification tip: Occurs during very rapid growth in cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Interior tissue of stem is collapsed or hollow. Usually, the head or stem must be cut to see damage.

Downy mildew fungus produces dark streaks beneath the cortical tissue.

Systemic downy mildew

Identification tip: Core plant tissues will have dark brown or black streaks and discoloration. Cut open plant to examine.

Broccoli whitestalk resulting from silverleaf whitefly feeding.

White Stem (broccoli)

Identification tip: Toxins secreted by whiteflies feeding early in the season cause bleaching or whitening in stems and leaf petioles.


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