Most farmers in their early days of farming find it tricky to know when to harvest broccoli or what stage they are grown.
Growing and harvesting broccoli is a rewarding experience that most farmers enjoy. When you grow your broccoli and see the heads forming, you start wondering when the right time to harvest is. And what signs you should watch for.
Growing broccoli and obtaining a good harvest of large heads that are ripe takes patience and practice. So if you fail in your first and second attempt, don’t stop, rather keep practicing.
How Do You Know When to Harvest Broccoli?
The answer to this question lies at your fingertips. You can know when to harvest your broccoli by touching the head and squeezing it gently. If the head is firm and tightly packed, then it’s ready for harvest. If the head is soft and has spaces between the florets with flowers opening, it is past harvest time. All broccoli farmers should avoid overgrowing these edible flowers.
The moment you notice the flowering heads starting to develop, it is a good idea to check on them often. Did you know broccoli gives you an extra treat as you wait for the main head to get ready for harvest? You can harvest the outer young leaves when they are about 4 to 6 inches long before the heads are ready. These young leaves have the same tasty flavor as the heads, very delicious when sautéed in oil or butter.
You can start harvesting these young leaves when the main head is small. This is before it protrudes above the leaves. These small young leaves are best eaten at that time. When the head begins to grow fuller and protrude, the leaves become tougher and lose their flavor.
Remember to pick only a few leaves at a time so as not to harm the plant. Keep harvesting new leaves throughout the season until the heads are ready for picking.
Signs that Show your Broccoli are Ready
It can be tricky for new farmers to tell if their broccoli is ready or not. Here are a few signs to look out for:
- The broccoli has a head. This is the most obvious sign to check out for. The ready to harvest broccoli must have a firm and tight head.
- Broccoli’s head size. The ready head should measure between 4 to 7 inches wide. Size alone is not an indicator that it is ready; remember the rule of the thumb to check if it’s firm enough.
- Individual floret size. The size of the individual flower buds is the most reliable indicator. Check the florets on the outside edge of the head; they must be the size of the match stick head. This tells you they are ready for picking.
- Florets color. Ready to harvest florets are deep green in color. Any hint of yellow color means the florets are starting to bloom because they are overgrown. Harvest them immediately if you notice either of the colors.
The best way to know when to harvest broccoli is to consult your seed packet for 2 important things. The expected day of maturity and the expected size of the broccoli head. Each variety grows to a different size in about 100 days from the date of planting.
Always mark your calendar when you plant your broccoli to give you an estimated date of harvest. That’s the easiest way for any farmer to know when the broccoli is ready for harvest.