- cabbage family, and is closely related to cauliflower. Its cultivation originated in Italy. Broccolo, its Italian name, means "cabbage sprout." Because of its different components, broccoli provides a range of tastes and textures, from soft and flowery (the floret) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Do not let the smell of the sulfur compounds that are released while cooking keep you away from this highly nutritious vegetable.
- Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from soft and flowery (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety. One of the most popular type of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.Other vegetables related to broccoli are broccolini, a mix between broccoli and kale, and broccoflower, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli sprouts have also recently become popular as a result of research uncovering their high concentration of the anti-cancer phytonutrient, sulforaphane.
- Broccoli has its roots in Italy. In ancient Roman times, it was developed from wild cabbage, a plant that more resembles collards than broccoli. It spread through out the Near East where it was appreciated for its edible flower heads and was subsequently brought back to Italy where it was further cultivated. Broccoli was introduced to the United States in colonial times, popularized by Italian immigrants who brought this prized vegetable with them to the New World.
- Broccoli contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals which break down to compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates (such as sulphoraphane). Broccoli also contains the carotenoid, lutein. Broccoli is an excellent source of the vitamins K, C, and A, as well as folate and fiber. Broccoli is a very good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and the vitamins B6 and E.
- Broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. Research on indole-3-carbinol shows this compound helps deactivate a potent estrogen metabolite (4-hydroxyestrone) that promotes tumor growth, especially in estrogen-sensitive breast cells, while at the same time increasing the level of 2-hydroxyestrone, a form of estrogen that can be cancer-protective. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to suppress not only breast tumor cell growth, but also cancer cell metastasis (the movement of cancerous cells to other parts of the body).
- Scientists have found that sulforaphane boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly. When researchers at Johns Hopkins studied the effect of sulphoraphane on tumor formation in lab animals, those animals given sulforaphane had fewer tumors, and the tumors they did develop grew more slowly and weighed less, meaning they were smaller.
- The field is prepared like that of Brussels sprout. Generally small-sized plots or beds of 3m × 3m size are prepared for transplanting the seedlings.
- Sprouting broccoli is mainly raised from seeds. However, vegetative propagation by cuttings and tissue culture are also practised. Its seedlings are raised in nursery beds just like other cole crops. About 400–500g seed is sufficient to raise seedlings for a hectare. Mid-September–early-November is sowing time in plains. Generally it is sown during September–October in lower hills. About 4–6 weeks old seedlings are transplanted. The planting of over mature seedlings should be avoided. Seedlings are transplanted 45cm apart within and between the rows. In very rich soils, spacing can be reduced to 45cm × 30cm to avoid stem hollowness due to rapid plant growth. At a wider spacing, plants produce more laterals. The closer spacing is preferred for mechanical harvesting of the central head. However, closer spacing delays maturity.
Manuring and fertilization
- Use of optimum doses of fertilizers is important for its proper growth since both rapid and slow growth are undesirable. The bud cdusters become loose and hollow-stem results from rapid growth, however slow growth affect yield adversely.
Generally, application of 15–20 tonnes of farmyard manure, 60–80kg N/ha and 100kg/ha each of P and K are recommended. The doses differ from place-to-place depending upon the fertility status of the soil. The full dose of P, K and half of N are applied at the time of preparation of land. The remaining dose of N should be topdressed in 2 equal split doses. The first is applied 4–5 weeks after transplanting, whereas second before head formation. A high yield of side shoots can be obtained by liberal use of N after harvesting central bud cluster.
- Micronutrient requirement of broccoli is fairly high. Molybdenum and Boron may be supplied by soil application or foliar sprays.
- Broccoli needs sufficient moisture in the soil for uniform and continuous growth of plants. Therefore, frequent irrigation at 10–15 days are given depending upon weather conditions. The dry conditions adversely affect the quality and yield of shoots by being more fibrous. On the other hand water logging condition depresses plant growth. Generally furrow system of irrigation is practiced.
- The crop should be kept weed-free. Hoeing is done for breaking the surface crust to facilitate better aeration and water absorption. Since it is a shallow-rooted crop, hoeing should not be done beyond the depth of 5–6cm close to the plant to avoid injuries to the roots. A light earthing-up at final hoeing is beneficial. Pre-planting sprays of 2kg/ha of Basalin followed by 1 or 2 hoeings help control weeds effectively.
Harvesting and Post harvest management
- The heads having 10–15cm stems should be harvested with a sharp knife when its bud clusters are green and compact. If harvesting is delayed the bud clusters become loose. The central bud cluster or head matures first. The growth of lateral shoots is promoted in the leaf axils. These sprouts may attain a diameter of 3–10cm and the harvesting is prolonged for several weeks. The closer planting is adopted for economical and single harvest of the central bud clusters. Generally harvesting continues for 4–6 weeks. Central head weighs about 500–600g. On an average, its yield varies from 100–150q/ha. However, Pusa KTS 1 provides 100–150 and 60q/ha in hills and plains respectively.
- After harvesting, its heads should be immediately sorted, graded, packed in baskets and sent to markets. A high rate of respiration results in deterioration of its quality. They should be cooled at 4.4°C and then packed with ice in crates and stored in refrigerators. They can be stored well for 7–10 days at 4°C. Broccoli can also be preserved in glass jars after lactic acid fermentation.
- Deficiency of molybdenum causes whip-tail in which the lamina of the newly-formed leaves become leathery, irregular and consisting of only mid-rib. This can be prevented by soil application of 1–1.5kg of molybdenum before planting. Foliar application of 0.0–1% solution of ammonium molybdate helps control this disorder.
Browning of heads results due to B deficiency. First water-soaked areas appear on bud clusters which turn pinkish or rusty-brown in advanced stages, resulting in rotting. This can be prevented by soil application of 20kg/ha of borax or sodium borate. Foliar spraying of 0.25–0.5% solution of borax is more effective, especially when the deficiency is acute. The affected portion does not fully recover but helps in appearance of new, healthy bud clusters
 Health Benefits
- Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold.
- The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancies.The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.
- The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels.In recent years, broccoli has made the headlines regarding three components found in the vegetable. For instance, indole-3-carbinol has captured the attention of those looking to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast- and prostate cancer.
- I3C promotes "good" hormones, while working against destructive ones. The sulforaphane in broccoli also helps to increase the level of enzymes that block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, providing an effective antioxidant that destroys free radicals (responsible for weakening the defense of cells).
- Additionally, the health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following medical concerns: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process.
 Nutritional Benefits
- Broccoli is the superhero of the vegetable kingdom with its rich vitamin A content--notice broccoli's dark green color as an indicator of its hearty carotene content. Though a bit on the bitter side, broccoli leaves are completely edible and also contain generous amounts of vitamin A.
- With one half-cup of cooked broccoli providing 1083 IU of vitamin A and raw offering 678 IU, this veggie should make a frequent appearance at your dinner table. Folic acid is also abundant with one-half cup cooked registering 39 mcg and raw 31.2 mcg.
- Broccoli offers 71.8 mg of calcium for a whole cup of cooked, as much calcium as 4 oz. of milk. That cup of raw contains 42.2 mg.
- A cup of broccoli gives you 10% of your daily iron requirement, and the vitamin C content helps the body to absorb the iron.
- One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange, and one third of a pound has more vitamin C than two and one-half pounds of oranges. A serving of one-half cup cooked broccoli offers 58.2 mg while the raw stores 41 mg. A cup of broccoli actually fulfills your daily vitamin C requirement
- If you're a calories counter, count broccoli in with only 22 calories for one-half cup chopped and boiled and 12 calories for one-half cup raw chopped.
- Though this exceptional vegetable is not a powerhouse of protein, it does contain 2 grams for one-half cup boiled, and 1 gram for the same quantity of raw. These same figures apply to fiber as well with 2 grams, for the boiled and 1 gram for the raw broccoli.
- Across the nutrition scale, broccoli contains all the nutrients mentioned above in addition to vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
- It is important to note that though the figures listed for raw broccoli seem lower, it is not because raw broccoli is inferior to cooked. Because raw broccoli contains more bulk or volume than the cooked, one must eat more to equal the figures for cooked. Cooking breaks down the volume of broccoli, making it easier to consume larger quantities.
- Frozen broccoli contains about 35% more beta carotene than the fresh because the frozen packages consist mainly of the florets. Most of the beta carotene is stored in the florets. But don't jump too quickly. There's plenty of nutrition in those stems, such as extra calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.
- The darker colors of the florets, such as blue green, or purplish green contain more beta carotene and vitamin C than those with lighter greens.
 Medicinal Benefits
- Though definitive proof is not yet published, the National Cancer Institute suggests that broccoli, along with its cruciferous family members, may be important in the prevention of some types of cancer.
- Because of its impressive nutritional profile that includes beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and phytochemicals, specifically indoles and aromatic isothiocynates, broccoli and its kin may be responsible for boosting certain enzymes that help to detoxify the body. These enzymes help to prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
- Broccoli along with onions, carrots, and cabbage may also help to lower blood cholesterol. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture's regional research center in Philadelphia, two researchers, Dr. Peter Hoagland and Dr. Philip Pfeffer, discovered these vegetables contain a certain pectin fiber called calcium pectate that binds to bile acids, holding more cholesterol in the liver and releasing less into the bloodstream. They found broccoli equally as effective as some cholesterol lowering drugs.
- Broccoli's wealth of the trace mineral, chromium, may be effective in preventing adult-onset diabetes in some people. At the Beltsville, Maryland, Human Research Laboratories of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Richard Anderson, a diabetes expert, found that chromium boosts the ability of insulin to perform better in people with slight glucose intolerance.