Broccoli Growing Problems II
There are many broccoli growing problems you may encounter even if you manage to grow healthy seedlings. As broccoli matures, it gets stronger and hardier, and it becomes firmly established into the ground. It is a sign that your plant is growing strong and healthy.
However, there are numerous problems your plant may encounter at this stage. This is particularly true for problems on leaves and flower heads. Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter:
Problems on Leaves
Yellow spots on upper leaf surfaces and grayish powder on the undersides. If your plants develop irregular yellowish to brownish spots on upper leaf surfaces and grayish powder or even mold on the undersides, it is a sign of downy mildew. This disease is caused by a fungus. To prevent this problem, you need to improve air circulation and keep your garden free of plant debris. Also, you may choose to plant resistant varieties and rotate crops.
Dull yellow leaves.In case the leaves become dull and yellow, and if they curl, it may also cause the death of the plant. This so-called “cabbage yellows” is caused by the fungus Fusatium soil. It infects the plants where the soil is warm and it’s often spread by leafhoppers. To treat this problem, remove the infected plants and control leafhoppers. Also, make sure to keep your garden free of weeds, since they can harbor diseases. It’s important to keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet. Make sure to rotate crops.
Yellow leaves and stunted plant. These symptoms, accompanied by small glistening specs on roots is a sign of root cyst nematodes. They are microscopic, worm-like animals that live on the film of water that coats soil particles. To prevent this problem, solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer and rotate cabbage family crops.
Yellowish leaves, slightly curled with small specks. This can be a sign of aphids. They are small, oval whitish-green, pink or black insects. They are known to colonize on leaves. Aphids leave sticky excrement called honeydew, which can quickly turn into a black sooty mold. To get rid of them, use insecticidal soap solutions or remove the pests with a blast of water. You may also mulch with aluminum foil, which will disorient these insects.
Deformed leaves with whitish or yellowish spots. This can be a sign of harlequin bugs or stink bugs. They are black, with bright red, yellow or orange markings. Harlequin bugs are insects that suck fluids from plant tissue, which causes yellow and white blotches. You can handpick and destroy the bugs and eggs. You should also keep your garden free of weeds and crop residue, since these are the places where these bugs breed. Stink bugs are green or gray shield-shaped insects and they feed on fruits. You should remove the weeds and garden debris to prevent them from attacking your plants.
Partially eaten leaves. If you notice this problem, as well as leaves webbed together, it may be a sign of cabbage earworms. They are green insects with a light stripe and they are actually the larvae of a brownish-yellow moth with gray markings. Larvae are known to spin light webs. To get rid of them, clip off the webbed leaves. It’s also important to keep the garden weed-free.
Leaves eaten and the plant partially defoliated. This may be a sign of blister beetles. They are slender metallic or gray insects. Use insecticide to destroy them, or you may handpick them. Keep your garden free of weeds and debris.
Large holes in leaves and skeletonized leaves. This is a sign of cabbage loopers or armyworms. Cabbage loopers are light green caterpillars with yellow stripes on the back. Armyworms are dark green caterpillars. Both eat leaves and destroy them. Use insecticide to get rid of them. Make sure to keep your garden free of debris and weeds to prevent these pests from attacking your plants.
Chewed and slimed leaves. This is the sign of snails and slugs. You can set beer traps to get rid of them, or you may hand-collect them during night.
Pale green leaves that wilt. You may also notice slimy rot on stems, leaves and head. This is the sign of the bacterial soft rot, caused by Erwina bacteria. Rot cannot be cured. You should collect and burn the infected plants. To prevent this problem, make sure there’s good drainage by adding some compost and organic materials to planting beds. Don’t over-water your plants and make sure to rotate crops.
Problems with Buds and Flower Heads
Only small, scattered heads form. If no mature heads form, this may be a sign that your young plant is developing heads prematurely. It often happens if the temperature falls below 40 degrees F shortly after planting. To prevent this, protect the young plants with floating row covers or hot kaps.
Young plants flower. If it’s cold outside, it will cause the plants to prematurely flower and produce seed without forming heads. You can protect your plants with floating row covers to prevent this problem.
Plant stops producing heads or buds. You may also experience that the older buds flower. In order to prevent this, you should harvest heads regularly – at least once every 3 days. In case the buds are allowed the flower, the plant will stop producing new heads.
Plant flowers suddenly. In case of the warm temperatures (over 85 degrees F), the plant will start to flower unexpectedly and form small yellow flowers. To prevent this, plant earlier so your broccoli will mature before the heat. It’s best to plant mid-summer for a fall crop. Keep in mind that broccoli matures in cold weather. You may also plant early-maturing varieties, such as Green Comet Hybrid, Spartan Early and Premium Early.
Swollen and misshapen roots. It may cause the plant to wilt. This may be a sign of Clubroot- a soilborne fungal disease. To prevent it from happening, keep the garden clean of debris and weeds. Remove and destroy all the infected plants. Since the Clubroot is often found in acid soils, make sure to add some lime in case the pH of your soil is below 7.2. Also, make sure to rotate crops for at least 2 years, and always buy transplants from reliable suppliers.
Stunted plant. This may be a sign of numerous problems. In case you notice worms tunneling into roots, it may be a sign of the June beetle larvae. Another possibility are the Wireworms. In order to prevent this problem, check the soil before the planting and you may also flood the soil in case the larvae are present. Remove the infected plants along with the surrounding soil. Keep your garden clean of debris that may shelter beetle eggs.