Growing broccoli crop nutrition advice

Everything you need to know about fertilising broccoli, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more.

Nutrition advice for growing Broccoli

  • Broccoli generally performs best in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

  • Broccoli generally prefers well-drained loamy soil, comprising a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay.

  • Broccoli is a cool-season crop, thriving in temperatures ranging from 10°C to 21°C.

  • Broccoli, being a leafy green vegetable, requires ample sunlight, ideally at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth

  • Broccoli crops necessitate consistent moisture levels for thriving but are vulnerable to waterlogged conditions.

  • To ensure healthy growth, robust head development, and disease resistance, broccoli requires a balanced intake of nutrients.

The Significance of broccoli

Broccoli holds a significant position in the agricultural landscape of the United Kingdom, esteemed for its nutritional richness, versatility, and contribution to healthy eating habits. As a nutrient-dense cruciferous crop, broccoli plays a vital role in promoting human health and well-being. It offers a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a valuable addition to diverse culinary dishes and dietary regimes. Additionally, broccoli’s adaptability and relatively quick growth make it an ideal choice for sustainable farming practices, contributing to both environmental and nutritional sustainability.

The extent of broccoli Cultivation in the UK

The UK cultivates a substantial area of land dedicated to broccoli farming, with hundreds of hectares under cultivation annually. This extensive cultivation underscores the importance of broccoli in meeting the demands of various sectors, including fresh produce markets, food processing companies, and the health food industry. Broccoli’s popularity as a versatile and nutritious vegetable ensures a reliable supply chain for the agricultural industry, catering to the diverse needs of consumers across the UK.

What are the Nutrient Requirements of broccoli?

Broccoli crops have specific nutrient requirements, primarily needing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for optimal growth and yield. Nitrogen is crucial for promoting vegetative growth and enhancing overall plant vigour. Phosphorus supports root development and flowering, while potassium contributes to disease resistance and stress tolerance.


What are the roles of nutrients in broccoli?

  • Nitrogen (N):
    • Essential for promoting vegetative growth and overall plant development.
    • Crucial for the production of proteins, chlorophyll, and enzymes.
    • Helps in the formation of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
  • Phosphorus (P):
    • Supports root development, flowering, and fruit set in broccoli plants.
    • Involved in energy transfer processes within the plant.
    • Essential for the formation of DNA and RNA, vital for plant growth and reproduction.
  • Potassium (K):
    • Facilitates water regulation and nutrient uptake in broccoli plants.
    • Contributes to disease resistance and stress tolerance.
    • Helps in enzyme activation and photosynthesis, promoting overall plant vigour.
  • Calcium (Ca):
    • Enhances cell wall strength and structure in broccoli plants.
    • Reduces the risk of disorders like tip burn by ensuring proper calcium uptake.
    • Regulates membrane permeability and signalling pathways within the plant.
  • Magnesium (Mg):
    • A crucial component of chlorophyll, magnesium is essential for photosynthesis in broccoli plants.
    • Supports carbohydrate metabolism and energy transfer processes.
    • Regulates enzyme activity and nutrient uptake and utilisation.
  • Sulphur (S):
    • Required for the synthesis of certain amino acids and proteins in broccoli plants.
    • Plays a role in the formation of vitamins and enzymes.
    • Contributes to the overall health and vigour of the plant.
  • Micronutrients (e.g., Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper):
    • Essential for various enzyme functions and metabolic processes in broccoli plants.
    • Act as cofactors for numerous biochemical reactions, supporting growth and development.
    • Help in the regulation of plant hormone levels and the scavenging of harmful reactive oxygen species.

What are the deficiencies & issues that can be faced when growing broccoli?

When cultivating broccoli crops, several common nutrient deficiencies and issues may arise, impacting plant health and yield potential. Nitrogen deficiency may result in pale green or yellowing leaves, reduced head size, and overall stunted growth. Phosphorus deficiency can manifest as slow growth, purplish discoloration on stems, and poor root development. Potassium deficiency may cause leaf curling, necrosis, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases. Additionally, broccoli crops are susceptible to pests such as aphids and diseases like clubroot, which can affect head quality and overall yield. Implementing proper soil fertility management practices and disease prevention strategies is essential for mitigating these issues and ensuring healthy broccoli crop growth.


Nitrogen DeficiencySymptoms include overall stunted growth, particularly in young plants.
Leaves may turn pale green or yellow, starting from the lower leaves and progressing upwards.
Reduced head development and smaller florets may be observed.
Phosphorus DeficiencyManifests as slow or stunted growth, especially during early stages.
Leaves may appear dark green or purplish, particularly along the leaf margins.
Poor root development and delayed maturity are common symptoms.
Potassium DeficiencyLeads to yellowing or browning of leaf margins, starting from the older leaves.
Leaves may curl upwards or become distorted, with necrotic spots.
Weak stems and increased susceptibility to diseases may also be observed.
Calcium DeficiencyCauses disorders like tip burn, characterized by necrosis and browning of leaf margins and tips.
Young leaves may exhibit distorted growth, and heads may develop black or brown spots.
Reduced head quality and increased susceptibility to physiological disorders are common.
Magnesium DeficiencySymptoms include interveinal chlorosis in older leaves, while veins remain green.
Reduced chlorophyll production leads to overall pale appearance and impaired photosynthesis.
Older leaves may show signs of necrosis or leaf drop.
Sulphur DeficiencySymptoms include overall yellowing of leaves, particularly in younger leaves.
Reduced chlorophyll production leads to a pale appearance and stunted growth compared to healthy plants.
Plants may exhibit general weakness and reduced vigour.


How can I spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Broccoli?

Detecting nutrient deficiencies in broccoli crops requires careful observation of plant symptoms and understanding their underlying causes. Regular scouting of broccoli fields, coupled with soil testing and nutrient monitoring, aids in early detection and intervention. Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency include pale green or yellowing leaves and stunted growth, while phosphorus deficiency may lead to slow growth and purplish discoloration on stems. Potassium deficiency presents as leaf curling, necrosis, and reduced plant vigour. Pests and diseases such as aphids and clubroot can also be identified through visual inspection of plants. Prompt intervention with appropriate corrective measures helps mitigate deficiencies and ensure optimal broccoli crop health and productivity.


What are the Different Varieties of Broccoli Commonly Grown in the UK?

Common varieties of spinach grown in the UK include Savoy Spinach, Flat-leaf Spinach, and Baby Spinach. These varieties are chosen for their adaptability to UK growing conditions, flavour profiles, and culinary versatility, offering a range of options for farmers and consumers alike.


Use of ICL’s Products in Broccoli Cultivation

ICL’s products, like Polysulphate, play a crucial role in optimising broccoli cultivation. Polysulphate, with its balanced composition of essential nutrients, including sulphur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, supports healthy broccoli growth and development. The controlled release of nutrients ensures a steady supply throughout the growing season, promoting robust plant growth, improved disease resistance, and enhanced yield potential. Integrating Polysulphate into broccoli cultivation practices can lead to increased productivity, better quality broccoli, and sustainable agricultural practices, aligning with the goals of modern farming operations.


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding growing broccoli

  • Broccoli is a cool-season crop that thrives in cooler temperatures. It’s best to plant broccoli in early spring or late summer/early fall, depending on your climate. In cooler regions, plant broccoli as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. In warmer regions, plant broccoli in the fall for a winter harvest.

  • Broccoli grows best in full sun, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. While broccoli can tolerate some shade, it may not produce as large or flavorful heads if exposed to insufficient sunlight. Plant broccoli in a location that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day for optimal growth.

  • Broccoli plants require consistent moisture to thrive but are sensitive to waterlogged conditions. Water broccoli deeply and evenly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Aim to provide about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation. Mulching around broccoli plants can help retain soil moisture and reduce water evaporation.

  • Broccoli requires a balanced supply of nutrients for healthy growth. Key nutrients include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and micronutrients like iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn). Amend the soil with compost or well-aged manure before planting to provide essential nutrients for broccoli plants.