The Q&A Archives: Broccoli produces small heads

Question: Each year my Green Goliath broccoli plants grow beautifully but produce small heads. I set them out early and water and fertilize them well. Any idea what's wrong? J.S. Emmaus, PA

Answer: Green Goliath is a very fast maturing broccoli that never produces really big heads even under the best conditions. And a spring crop never produces heads the size of a fall crop, explains Irv Breber of Otis S. Twilley Seed Company, which operates trial grounds near Doylestown. If your heads are four to six inches across, that's about right for Green Goliath. In fall, they'll get about two inches bigger. If the heads are just an inch or two across, however, it means the plants are 'buttoning' because they've been stressed by cold, lack of water or a fertilizer shortage, Breber says. Keep your plants growing steadily from the time they sprout. Don't let them get rootbound. Feed them once a week while they are in containers and don't let themdry out. Young broccoli doesn't like temperature much below 50_F. We normally set out broccoli transplants in late April, about two weeks before our last frost date, notes Breber.

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