Cole Crops

Year-Round IPM Program for Cole Crops

(Published 10/12)

These practices are recommended for a monitoring-based IPM program that enhances pest control and reduces environmental quality problems related to pesticide use.

Each time a pesticide application is considered, review the Pesticide Application Checklist at the bottom of this page for information on how to minimize water and air quality problems. Water quality becomes impaired when pesticides and sediments move off-site and into water. Air quality becomes impaired when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) move into the atmosphere.

This year-round IPM program covers the major pests of cole crops in the Central Valley, Central and Southern Coast, and desert areas. Track your progress through the year with the annual checklist form. Links take you to information on how to monitor, forms to use, and management practices. Details on carrying out each practice, example monitoring forms, and information on additional pests can be found in the Cole Crops Pest Management Guidelines.

Preplant

Special issues of concern related to environmental quality: pesticide and fertilizer runoff and leaching.

Mitigate pesticide effects on air and water quality.

What should you be doing at this time?
If nematodes have not been previously identified, take soil samples preferably while the previous crop is still in the field.
Select the field:
  • Consider soil type, plantback restrictions from previously applied pesticides, and rotational plan for the field.
  • Consider crop, pest, and pest management history, especially:
    • Clubroot: if lime was not applied in the previous crop, be sure to apply lime this season or choose another field if the field has a history of clubroot.
    • Damping-off (wirestem): if the field has a history of severe damping-off, do not transplant cauliflower.
    • Nutsedge and field bindweed: if infestation is moderate to severe, consider planting to a different field.
    • Cyst nematodes: if present in soil samples and damage noted in the previous crop, consider treatment or planting to another field.
    • Fumigants used: previous crop fumigation may continue to provide control of soilborne diseases and nematodes in the current crop.
  • Take a soil sample for nutrient, salinity, and pH analysis to determine field suitability and soil nutrient management.
  • Manage residue from the previous crop to prevent the spread of diseases, root– and crown–feeding insects, symphylans, and centipedes.
Manage weeds according to the Cole Crops Pest Management Guidelines.

Create a custom herbicide weed susceptibility chart for your field. Learn how.

Clean equipment and tractors before they enter the field to prevent the spread of soilborne pathogens and weed seeds.
Prepare the field:
  • Unless practicing reduced tillage or no-till, disc to incorporate crop residues and weeds.
  • Prepare seed beds with good drainage.
  • If the field has a history of clubroot, consider adding lime.
Apply fertilizers, if necessary:
  • For broccoli and cauliflower, 20 to 30 lbs/acre nitrogen are applied preplant. In the southern desert and Central Valley, apply 150 to 300 lbs/acre P2O5. For other regions, apply phosphorus and potassium based on soil test results.
  • For cabbage, apply 200 lbs/acre P2O5 is in the southern desert.  Apply 500 lbs/acre complete fertilizer in coastal areas.
Manage disease.

Planting to rosette

Mitigate pesticide effects on air and water quality

What should you be doing at this time?
Monitor for Bagrada bug in nurseries where transplants are grown. Do not use damaged transplants, particularly for cabbage.
At planting, select and apply herbicides if needed based on the preplant weed survey.
Plant seeds or transplant seedlings into uniform beds to the proper depth with a precision planting system.

Check for stand uniformity and wilted plants. Inspect plants for:

  • Aphids (cabbage aphid and other aphids)
  • Bagrada bug
  • Beet armyworm (eggs and newly hatched larvae)
  • Cabbage looper (eggs and newly hatched larvae)
  • Cabbage maggot
  • Crickets (if crop is direct-seeded)
  • Darkling beetles
  • Diamondback moth (coastal areas)
  • Flea beetles
  • Garden symphylans
  • Grasshoppers (if crop is direct-seeded)
  • Leafminers
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Silverleaf whitefly
  • Sowbugs (if crop is direct-seeded)
  • Wireworms
Before cultivation, manage germinated weeds according to the Cole Crops Pest Management Guidleines.
If you observe severe symptoms of clubroot or Rhizoctonia diseases, note the location for future spot treatments if cole crops will be planted again, or to make management decisions for the next crop.

Sporadic or minor pests, diseases, or disorders you may see:

  • Alternaria leafspot
  • Cabbage looper
  • Downy mildew
  • Imported cabbageworm
  • Vertebrates (mice, voles, or birds)
  • Wind damage or wind whip: note for next year's management
Install drip tape if sprinklers have been used to establish the crop.

Rosette to heading

Mitigate pesticide effects on air and water quality

What should you be doing at this time?
If you observe symptoms of Fusarium yellows or Verticillium wilt note for future management.
Apply fertilizers, if necessary:
  • For broccoli and cauliflower, estimate the sidedress nitrogen requirement with pre-sidedress soil nitrate testing (PSNT).
  • For coastal area cabbage, direct-spray nitrogen at 130 lbs/acre when plants have 5 to 6 true leaves.

Consider a surface band application of ammonium nitrate as a contact herbicide and as a nitrogen source.

Monitor for pests or their damage:
  • Aphids (cabbage aphid and other aphids)
  • Bagrada bug
  • Beet armyworm
  • Cabbage looper
  • Diamondback moth

Manage according to the Cole Crops Pest Management Guidelines.

Heading to harvest

Mitigate pesticide effects on air and water quality

What should you be doing at this time?
Monitor the presence and level of weeds. Keep records (PDF) for next season’s management.
Monitor for pests or their damage:
  • Aphids (cabbage aphid and other aphids)
  • Bagrada bug
  • Beet armyworm
  • Cabbage looper
  • Silverleaf whitefly

Manage according to the Cole Crops Pest Management Guidelines.

Monitor for and identify crop quality issues and note for next year’s management.

  • Broccoli head rot
  • Systemic downy mildew in broccoli and cauliflower
  • White stem in broccoli
Abiotic disorders:
  • Broccoli brown bead
  • Calcium deficiency in cauliflower
  • Hollow stem in broccoli
  • Cracked stem
Test soil for nitrogen and apply as needed based on test results. See:

Consider a surface band application of ammonium nitrate as a contact herbicide and as a nitrogen source.

Clean harvest equipment and tractors before they enter the field to prevent the spread of disease.
Note the presence and level of soilborne disease at harvest for next season’s management planning.
Examine roots of stunted plants for brown cysts of cyst nematodes.

Harvest and postharvest

Mitigate pesticide effects on air and water quality

What should you be doing at this time?

Immediately after harvest, shred and disc under crop remnants if the following pests were a problem:

Remove drip tape.
Till soil.
If cover crops fit into the crop rotation, consider planting legume, rye, or sorghum to protect the soil if there will be a fallow period.
Plan next season's crop rotation. Crops in the Brassicaceae (mustard family) are not recommended.

Pesticide application checklist

When planning for possible pesticide applications in an IPM program, review and complete this checklist to consider practices that minimize environmental and efficacy problems.

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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