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Cauliflower

Introduction

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) belongs to the family of Cruciferae. It is a cool season crop and it is related to broccoli, cabbage, turnips and kale. From most of the other family plants it has the biggest demanding in climatic requirements and it is sensitive to low temperatures, drought or unusually hot weather (Nc State University, 2008). Cauliflower is cultivated for its nutritious head (curd) and its family (Cruciferae) is well known for containing nutrition's that fight against many diseases (Life Plus, 2004). This vegetable contains very big percentage of vitamins (K, C, A, folic acid, flavonoids and fibber that make it have antioxidant attribute. Eating regularly cruciferous vegetables lowers the risk of many kind of woman cancers, particularly breast. The better way of eating the cauliflower is raw or very lightly cooked because otherwise it is losing the antioxidant attribute (Herbal Remedies, 2007).

It can be cultivated in many different climatic conditions and it is available in the market for the whole year. It can be eaten as raw, lightly boiled in water, mixed with green salad or even used for the preparation of pickled mixed with other salad. It has low calories and it's a very good source for phosphorous, iron, calcium, protein and ascorbic acid (Google Books, 2009).

Cultivation Techniques

Seedlings can be grown in nurseries and then transplanted to the field. Cell pack seedlings from a specialist are preferred because the chances of soil diseases are less, they cost less and by the time they are grown by a specialist they will be good quality plants. If seed will be used, good quality and fresh seed must be purchased in order to have good germination rate (around 80-95%). Depending on the variety 1 gram of seed will contain about 250 - 350 seeds (Rachel Lancaster, 2001).

The best weather conditions it can be grown at are 15 to 250C with high humidity. Because of the variance of the variety selection, it can be grown during the year even in temperatures reaching the 300C. Although the efforts referred above, this can happen only in some varieties and most varieties that grow not in an appropriate season will result with small curds that are not trade able (Rachel Lancaster, 2001).

Cauliflower needs a slightly alkaline or a neutral soil to grow up well. Summer cauliflower grows up quickly and needs very big amounts of nutrients for rapid growth. The more nutrients the soil has the better for the plants growth. Depending on the time of the year the planting of the crop can vary and some techniques can be set in order to have earlier harvesting like a poly-tunnel or a cloche (Garden Action, 2009).

Winter cauliflower is more tolerant in different soil conditions than the summer one and it can be grown in most of the soil types by the time there is no water-logging. Because they grow up slowly and because of the fact that it's a winter plant meaning they will be exposed to the low temperatures it's good to be set in sun angle than shade and also be protected from wind (Garden Action, 2009).

Economic and Social Significance of Cauliflower

The global production of cauliflower during 2007 was **** million tonnes. The main producing countries were China with 80.7 million tonnes, India 50.2 million tonnes, Spain 45 thousand tonnes, France 39.5 thousand tonnes, Mexico 32.5 thousand tonnes, USA 31 thousand tonnes, Poland 28.5 thousand tonnes and UK with 18.5 thousand tonnes during the year. Since 1970's there was a continual increase of the production of the main producing countries and that shows the demanding of the rising population in relation to the demanding of the 21's century requirements to eat healthy food (Fao, 2009).

Most of the cultivating countries are developing countries and because of the fact that the population during those years raise very quickly it was a good effort for the cauliflower to raise. China's demanding for the

Harvesting and storing

The criteria of which a cauliflower will be ready to harvest are when the upper surface of it is 100% exposed and the inner leaves no longer cover it. A disadvantage of this crop is that they tend to mature all together and if the weather is very hot and they stay on the ground longer than they should the heads become discoloured and less appealing. Also when harvesting leaves must not be removed so they cover the head in order not to be exposed, and the best time to harvest is during the early morning when it is fresher. If it's a low temperature period they should be harvested during the hottest time of the day (Garden Action, 2009).

The harvesting of the curds should be done in no longer than two to three days. Usually there are 3 pickers and one packer that cut the cauliflower and put it onto a conveyor belt which is attached to a harvesting aid. The cauliflower is set in bins of around 150-200 and after that a layer of leaves is set onto them and then the bins get lined with plastic bubble in order to reduce bruising. If the product goes for export all the leaves are removed from the curd but if it goes for a local market leaves may remain to avoid bruising. After harvesting bins with the curds must be placed quickly in a cold room for about five days because they respire very quickly and they lose moisture. Best temperatures for the cauliflower to be stored are strictly 00C to 10C and 95 - 100% and with these criteria it can be stored for 2 to 4 weeks. Important notice is that cauliflower must not be stored with fruits that release ethylene like apples or tomatoes because it will ripen earlier (Rachel Lancaster, 2001).

Packing and transporting

Class 1 is the best quality product that goes to export and class 2 is a lower quality but it is a small percentage. The rest of the cauliflowers that do not achieve those requirements are discarded. The best size of a cauliflower is about 1.2kg and it must be heavier from 0.5kg. A common package includes around 15 cauliflowers and weights around 17 to 22 kg's. If it is for the local market the weight can reach up to 2.5kg for each cauliflower. The cooled and packed product will be transported depending on the location-area in containers and will be cooled again in 00C to 20C. Most of the exports are sending by the sea. The product is sent by plane only when it is an urgently needed and there is no ship transportation available. In order to export the product the criteria are changing again and any product with defects like bruising, surface dirt, curd separation, leaves in the curd and pest and disease damage are discarded (Rachel Lancaster, 2001).

Postharvest technology

Postharvest should not exceed the time of 4 weeks in any option. In order to maintain the low temperature inside the box and the good health of the product inside, a cool chain must be set in order to achieve the best quality for the product. The stages of the cool chain that has to be set are:

Otherwise if the product is produced for the local market after harvesting the product must be stored the soonest the possible to a cold storage in the farm and then transported to the supermarket with a truck with refrigeration (NHB Government, 2009).

Diseases

Cauliflower can be damaged from fungal and bacterial diseases. Main bacterial diseases are: black rot, bacterial soft rot and peppery leaf spot. Fungal diseases are: clubroot, alternaria leaf spot, downy mildew, Rhizoctonia solani, ringspot, sclerotinia and black leg. Viral viruses are spread mainly by aphids (Rachel Lancaster, 2001).

Also during nutrient and chemical deficiencies or even extreme environmental conditions symptoms similar might appear but the cause might be just a physiological disorder duo to those factors. Some of those physiological disorders are:

Exports

From 2000 to 2007 China was the largest producer of cauliflower in the world. India is following having the second largest production after China, then Italy, Spain, France, USA, Mexico, Poland and United Kingdom. Important notice is that China which is the largest producer follows a quick rising production. India also has a huge production compared with the world's total production but according to faostat it produces the same amounts of cauliflower for the last 14 years meaning that India is not expanding (Fao, 2009).

From January - October 2008 Italy exported to UK 2.540 tonnes of frozen and fresh cauliflower and broccoli accounting the value of 2.39 million euro's and on the other hand UK cauliflower production in recent years has declined. Prices in the UK seem to go higher and higher the last years because of the cheaper imports from Italy. The UK cauliflower association tried to persuade the customers that UK product is highly valuable in order to gain the ‘trade game' (Global Produce News, 2009).

Future Development

According to a successful project of Plymouths University about cauliflower they managed to develop and specify the curd size (Plymouth University 2004).

Cornell University managed to transform a new orange variety that customers seemed to like and is available in the supermarkets. This variety is more nutritious than the white coloured and has around 25 times more vitamin A than the white cauliflower (Cornell University, 2007).

Hybrid development was done for genetic improvement and some hybrids were found (F1) profitable for earliness, better curd quality, uniform maturity, resistant to pest and diseases and weather conditions (Google Books, 2009).

Though much information can be found about the development of the cauliflower there's not enough research about some of the most important factors which could help the production amount.

NA PINTOSO TPT POU MENA DAME

Conclusion and Discussion

Cauliflower is a very important crop worldwide. The valuable nutrients it has are very important for human health but also help people to protect against some diseases like cancer. Most of the production worldwide comes from China and India but the largest exporters are Spain and France. Though it is cultivated in many countries around the world with some more research on the plant genetic improvement it could be tolerant in higher temperatures and resistant in less water efficiency and it could be cultivated in a bigger range of different environments in more countries.

Reference

http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/DesktopDefault.aspx?PageID=567#ancor (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pubs/press/2004/040412caulif.html (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/fruit_veg_diary/cauliflower_2page2.asp (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.globalproducenews.com/?p=84 (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://books.google.com/books?id=f7djBk80Z6oC&dq=cauliflower+development&hl=el&source=gbs_navlinks_s (Accessed on 2/11/09)

http://www.herbalremedies.com/cauliflower-information.html (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.lifeplusvitamins.com/fruits-vegetables-nutrition.html (Accessed on 2/11/09)

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-10.html (Accessed on 2/11/09)

http://nhb.gov.in/bulletin_files/vegetable/cauliflower/cau009.pdf (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/files/extranet/docs/RSH/ssPESimmons.pdf (Accessed on 2/11/09).

http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/hort/veg/cp/broccoli/bull4521.pdf (Accessed on 2/11/09).