Ornamental cabbage and kale: water stress induces lower leaf loss

Ornamental cabbage and kale, similar to all brassica species, are not tolerant of water stress. Excessive wilting of the plants will result in lower leaf yellow and leaf drop. Maintaining adequate moisture levels is the primary method of avoiding this situation. 

Brassica species can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, but they are intolerant of excessive water stress. For example, if young cauliflower transplants are subjected to water stress as plugs, the plants will often prematurely form heads and never develop into full-sized plants.

For ornamental cabbage and kale, they are grown in the Southern U.S. as a fall color crop. Their production phase is during the hottest part of the year. Water management issues can arise due to excessive drying conditions and this can lead to wilting. Excessive wilting will result in lower leaf yellowing and loss.

To diagnose the problem, determining if the plants were subjected to water stress is the first step. Testing the substrate electrical conductivity (EC) can also be done. Overcrowding plants can also result in shading of the lower foliage, which will then yellow and drop.

Read the complete article at www.e-gro.org.

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