Buttoning is one of the ways cole crops respond to stress.
Many types of stress can cause buttoning:
These stress factors trigger plants to start reproductive efforts before they are ready, causing smaller leaves, stunted overall growth, and distorted flowers. These conditions also increase the likelihood of pests and diseases over the winter months.
Buttoning in cole crops
Buttoning in broccoli and cauliflower means smaller heads. Since buttoning of cole crops is more common among transplants, direct seeding may be a better choice. Mature plants can tolerate the cold, but young plants and seedlings exposed to a few days of 35°F to 50°F temperatures can alter the vegetative growth, leading to buttoning. Cabbage is not prone to buttoning.
How to prevent buttoning
Select varieties suitable to your microclimate and plant at the proper time to avoid buttoning. Maintain a regular watering and feeding schedule and mulch around plants to keep them strong enough to handle short-term stress.
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