Yield and relationships among head traits were recorded in order to better understand the effects of planting date and cultivar selection on crop quality characteristics and to help increase the efficiency of cultivar development, evaluation, and selection. A total of seven cultivars of fresh market-type cabbage (Brassica oleracea L., Capitata Group) were planted in May and June of 1999 and 2000 at the OARDC Vegetable Crops Research Branch in Fremont, Ohio. Total and marketable yield, head traits (e.g., size, weight, density), and core dimensions were recorded at harvest. Main effects of year (Y), planting date (PD), and cultivar (C) and the Y × C interaction significantly affected seven to 10 of 10 head and core traits. However, the PD × C interaction was significant for head density, the ratio of head polar and equatorial diameter, and core base width. The Y × PD interaction was significant for six of 10 head and core traits. May planting tended to result in greater yield and larger, heavier heads with greater polar/equatorial diameter values relative to June planting. However, head density was unaffected by planting date. The number of head and core traits affected by planting date differed among cultivars. For example, six of 10 head and core traits were significantly affected by planting date in `Cheers' and `DPSX315' while one trait was affected by planting date in `SuperElite Hybrid'. The weight of numerous, individual, market-ready, trimmed heads showed a strong (avg. R2 value = 0.92) quadratic relationship to average head diameter. These data suggest that large-scale germplasm evaluations may benefit by including multiple plantings, as head weight, volume, diameter, and shape were affected by planting date, possibly due to variation in temperature and rainfall patterns. The data also suggest that routine measurement of numerous head traits in the same evaluations may be unnecessary, as selected traits (e.g., diameter and weight, head volume, and core volume) were strongly related.
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