Problems of cauliflower head formation and management strategies


Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) is a cool season crop, and a bit sensitive to its climactic conditions compared to other cole relatives crops like broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, and mustard. This sensitivity to weather and environmental conditions forces cauliflower prone to numerous growing problems. Normally the problem will be related to curd formation or head formation.

                   Head formation problem in cauliflower    Problem in cauliflower crop

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) like other crops has two phases of growth — a.  Vegetative phase and b. reproductive phase. Vegetative growth phase is initial stage of development till the formation of head or curd. The normal time from transplantation to curd or head forming initiation 30 – 40 days and is solely dependent on the genetic variation. The reproductive phase means head or curd growth.  

                       Vegetative growth of Cauliflower      reproductive growth of Cauliflower

Following are some of the environment conditions during the reproductive phase affect the curd or head development.

  1. Unusually hot weather,
  2. Drought or irrigation
  3. Low temperatures
  4. Improper nutrient management and

can result in small premature heads or buttons and farmers concludes this as a headless cauliflower.

Possible mal formations of cauliflower

1. Elongated flower parts or Riciness in Cauliflower Curd/Head

In warmer temperatures, high humidity and higher nitrogen levels elongation of flower parts are observed and cauliflower heads also show hairy nature during head formation. Sometimes these elongated flowers will turn to purple colour also.

                      Riciness in Cauliflower

2. Hairy curd or Fuzziness

Hairy appearance or fuzziness in cauliflower head may be reason of temperature fluctuations (higher day temperatures and lower night temperature).

                     Fuzziness in Cauliflower

3. Buttoning in Cauliflower

Lower and Higher temperatures at time of planting, Low Soil moisture, nutrient deficiencies like nitrogen and micronutrient deficiencies lead to buttoning of cauliflower, a condition with smaller heads. Planting aged saplings is also one of the main reason for buttoning. Early season varieties are more prone to Buttoning problem.

                     Buttoning in cauliflower

4. Blind bud or no head

No curd or No head in cauliflower is called as blind bud and may be due to extreme weather conditions with respect to temperatures with night temperatures more than 250 C and day temperatures more than 30 0 C.

                      Blind bud or No head in cauliflower

5. Loose heads or loose curds

Fluctuating temperatures and moisture levels, not only slows down the growth of cauliflower but also contributes to formation of loose curds with lesser compactness of the head or curd. Excessive vegetative growth due to more nitrogen application may also lead to loose head or curd formation in cauliflower.

                     Loos heads of cauliflower

6. Browning and hollow Crown

Browning of the curds and hollow stem of cauliflower is said to be due to boron deficiency.

                     Browning and hollow stem in cauliflower

Management strategies

  • To mitigate the high temperatures that affect the cauliflower, blanching activity [the leaves of the plant are tied over the developing heads much like a kerchief to protect from direct sunlight] for some of cauliflower varieties may be done prior to harvest.

                      Blanching of cauliflower to avoid sunlight and high temperature

  • Cauliflower growing soil should always be moist up to a depth of 6 inches. Consistent moisture is necessary for cauliflower plants to develop full heads. Summer crops require little more quantities of water.
  • Supplementing timely balanced nutrition with required nutrients will contribute to the better growth and development of cauliflower as well as good curd formation.
  • Foliar applications of readily plant available nutrients during growth stages will reduce the nutrient stress and better curd formation is achieved.

                      Nutrients for foliar application in cauliflower crop

  • In boron deficient soils boron may be supplemented to cauliflower crop through foliar application.
  •                               Allbor for Cauliflower 


Senior Agronomist, BigHaat.

For more information kindly call on 8050797979 or give missed call on 180030002434 during office hours 10 AM to 5 PM

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