Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Freeze-induced reduction of broccoli yield and quality

D. K. Y. Tan, D. C. Joyce, A. H. Wearing, K. G. Rickert and C. J. Birch

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 39(6) 771 - 780
Published: 1999

Abstract

Summary. Sub-zero temperatures can result in freezing injury of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica Plenck) plants and thereby reduce head yield and quality. In order to predict effects of frosts, it is desirable to know the stages of development at which broccoli plants are most susceptible to freezing injury. In this study, the effect of a range of sub-zero temperatures for a short period at different stages of crop development were assessed and quantified in terms of mortality, yield and quality of broccoli. Whole plants in pots or in the field were subjected to sub-zero temperature regimes from –1 to –19°C. Extracellular ice formation was achieved by reducing temperatures slowly, at –2°C per hour. The floral initiation stage was most sensitive to freezing injury, as yields (fresh and dry head weights) were significantly reduced at –1 and –3°C, and the shoot apices were killed at –5°C. There was no significant yield reduction when the inflorescence buttoning stage was treated at –1 and –3°C. Although shoot apices survived the –5°C treatment at buttoning, very poor quality heads of uneven bud size were produced as a result of arrested development. The lethal temperature for pot-grown broccoli was between –3 and –5°C, whereas the lethal temperature for field-grown broccoli was between –7 and –9°C. The difference was presumably due to variation in cold acclimation. Freezing injury can reduce broccoli head yield and quality and retard plant growth. With regard to yield and maturity prediction, crop development models based only on simple thermal time without restrictions will not apply if broccoli crops are frost damaged.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA99037

© CSIRO 1999


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