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Family: Cruciferae - Brassicaceae
Species: Brassica oleracea L.
Origin and diffusion
Most of the cabbage originates from the Mediterranean basin and has been cultivated since very ancient times. Very cultivated in Italy (especially Cauliflower - see sheet), they have a strong consumption on the internal market and feed a considerable export.
Cabbages comprise numerous forms which are classified according to the characteristics of the parts of the plant used in:
- Cabbage Cauliflower Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis L.) see sheet;
- Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. Capitata L.);
- Savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. sabauda L.);
- Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea L. gemmifera Zenker);
- Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. gongylodes L.);
- Forage cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. acephala D.C.): it is used, especially in the Nordic countries, for feeding livestock;
- Frizzy black cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var acephala sabellica):
- Chinese cabbage (Brassica oleracea var.pekinensis Rupr.).
All belong to the species Brassica oleracea L.
If left to develop, the plant grows up to 1.5 meters in height, forming abundant branches with flowering twigs. The flowers are yellow and, after fertilization, generally crossed and entomophilous, give rise to the formation of a siliqua carrying numerous round seeds, of bluish black color (weight of 1,000 seeds equal to 4-6 grams).
Cabbage - Brassica oleracea L. capitata L.
In Italy, cabbage is grown in all regions, although mostly in central and southern Italy. The regions where cultivation is most widespread are: Puglia, Campania, Lazio, Calabria, and Veneto in the north.
It differs from savoy cabbage in the leaves which are smooth and never bullous and in the edible part (ball or head or cap) which is more compact.
The balls are eaten raw or cooked or are used to prepare sour cabbage (or sauerkraut), very common in Trentino and in central and northern Europe.
Be well suited to all types of soil, provided they are deep, well-ventilated and fresh, well-endowed with organic matter and with pH around neutrality. It prefers temperate-cold and humid climates, tolerates cold but not frost.
The crop needs irrigation during transplantation and during the head enlargement phase.
It is an interlayer crop and leaves a good residual fertility both for the considerable mass of crop residues and for the type of cultivation operations required.
Cabbage cultivars can be classified in various ways according to the color of the leaves (green and red), the destination of the product (fresh consumption and industrial transformation) and according to the harvesting period: spring-summer (early), autumn (medium-late), winter (late).
Today the most common cultivars are F1 hybrids.
The most appropriate cultivation technique is transplanting, which can be performed with bare root seedlings grown in a seedbed or with seedlings with earthen bread grown in honeycombed containers.
The density of planting is about 2-3 plants per square meter. The plant is in a single row, with a distance between the rows of 60-80 cm for the cabbage. On the row, however, the plants should be spaced: 40-70 cm.
The crop takes advantage of organic fertilization considerably. Cabbage is an average species demanding in nutrients (particular importance is covered by calcium).
For the containment of weeds, weeding, mulching, localized irrigation, as well as a correct crop rotation can be used.
Harvesting must take place when the head has reached the desired size, 60-70 days after transplanting in the early cultivars, 70-90 in the medium-early ones, over 90 days in the late ones. In any case, the heads must be well compact. In production plants intended for industry, collection is performed mechanically with a single pass. Cabbage is suitable for cold storage.
The production varies between 400 to 700 quintals per hectare, depending on the cultivar, the time of cultivation and the soil and climatic conditions.
Cabbage has a good dry matter content (8-9%), carbohydrates (4%), a low energy value, a balanced vitamin content and a moderate content in calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
Cabbage - Brassica oleracea L. oleracea L. (photo website)
Savoy cabbage - Brassica oleracea L. sabauda L.
Also cabbage leaves are used, bullous, wrinkled, almost ruffled, gathered in a less compact ball than that of the cabbage. It includes summer, autumn and winter varieties. Of the first we remember the Primaticcio di S.Giovanni, the early short Verzotto; in the autumn, the Verzotto dAsti, in Milan and Vittoria; of winter the commune of winter, the Pontoise, triumph of winter, king of winter, Vertus, etc.
The cultivation technique is similar to that of the Cabbage.
Savoy cabbage - Brassica oleracea L. sabauda L. (photo website)
Brussels sprout - Brassica oleracea L. gemmifera D.C.
It has a stem, up to 1 meter high, which ends with a tuft of loose ball leaves. Along the stem other leaves bring to the axilla shoots in the shape of rounded glomeruli (sprouts), in number of 25-30. It is not very cultivated in Italy.
Kohlrabi - Brassica oleracea L. gongylodes (L.) Miller
The Kohlrabi has lyrate-pinnate seven leaves, lobed at the bottom, pale green in color and yellow cruciform flowers; the stem is swollen and fleshy (similar to a large turnip, which forms the edible part) at ground level. The petioles and the enlarged stem can have a greenish-white or purplish color; the pulp has a flavor reminiscent of turnip and is eaten both raw and cooked.
Frizzy black cabbage - Brassica oleracea L. acephala sabellica
It has an erect stem, up to 1 meter high, with dark green, wrinkled and bullous leaves, the upper and young shoots of which are formed on the stem and branches are used. Used mainly in Tuscany, in the preparation of the famous ribollita.
Black kale - Brassica oleracea L. acephala sabellica (photo website)
Chinese cabbage or Peking cabbage (photo website)
Chinese cabbage - Brassica oleracea pekinensis Rupr.
It is a large vegetable not very widespread in Italy, consisting of large tight and elongated caps, formed by the leaves, which are characterized by large white petioles.
Adversity and pests
Among the parasites affecting cabbages we mention:
- Alternariosis (Alternaria brassicae);
- Cruciferous hernia (Plasmodiophora brassicae);
- Basal rot (Sclerotinia spp., Rhizoctonia solani, Phoma lingam);
- Cabbage mycelium (Mycosphaerella brassicicola);
- White rust (Albugo candiada);
- Downy mildew (Peronospora brassicae, Parasitic downy mildew);
- (Xanthomonas campestris, Erwinia carotovora);
- Aphids (Myzus persicae) (Brevicoryne brassicae);
- Nottue, Cavolaie (Mamestra brassicae, Mamestra oleracea, Pieris brassicae);
- Elateridae (Agriotes spp.);
- Altica (Phyllotreta spp.);
- Weevil (Baris spp., Ceuthorrhyncus spp.);
- Cabbage fly (Delia radicum).
In addition, damage from nematodes, snails and rodents are reported.