The Q&A Archives: Headless Broccoli

Question: I have big leafy broccoli plants but no head is forming yet. If I cut off some of the big outer leaves will it help the plant? I always have huge heads on my broccoli. Why is this happening? I have heard other people are having this problem this year.

Answer: Broccoli produces best when it is grown on a rich soil that is kept evenly moist yet remains well drained, meaning not soggy. The rule of thumb is to make sure it receives an inch to an inch and a half of water each week. Inadequate moisture is a common reason for this problem. A lack of nitrogen can cause small heads; side dressing with additional nitrogen every few weeks can also be very helpful. Club root disease is another possibility. You might wish to examine the root on a plant and see if there are odd swellings and gnarly roots which are signs of club root. If this is the case, be sure to rotate your cole crops very carefully to avoid reinfection. In any case, removing the leaves will not help; the leaves help the plant produce energy. Finally, once the weather turns hot your broccoli may simply sulk because it is a "cool season" crop.

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