To better understand the influence of environmental factors on components of crop productivity and nutritional and sensory quality parameters, the fresh-market cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata Group) `Bravo' was irrigated at different periods relative to head development in 2002 and 2003 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. Irrigation was provided to plots either: 1) from planting to maturity, 2) during frame development only, or 3) during head development only. Control plants received no irrigation after plant establishment. Irrigation timing relative to crop stage significantly affected all head characteristics with the greatest differences between cabbage receiving irrigation during head development and cabbage not irrigated during head development. On average, heads from cabbage irrigated during head development were heavier, larger, less pointed, and had less volume occupied by the core than heads from cabbage not irrigated during head development. A positive, linear relationship (r2 = 0.89) was found between head volume and head weight. Across years, combined head fructose and glucose concentrations were significantly greater and sucrose concentrations significantly lower in cabbage receiving irrigation during head development than in cabbage not irrigated during head development. Total and individual glucosinolate levels were greater in cabbage not irrigated during head development relative to cabbage receiving irrigation during head development. Head weight, fructose and glucose were positively related to the proportion of estimated crop evapotranspiration replaced by irrigation during head development, while the opposite response was observed in head sucrose and total and indole glucosinolate concentrations.
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