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- Author or Editor: Caterina Roman x
We compared the performance of Brussels sprout (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera) cultivars in New Hampshire and evaluated the effects of topping (apical meristem removal) on marketable yields. A total of 23 cultivars were evaluated in the study, with 8 to 16 cultivars evaluated in any given year. We identified several cultivars that produced moderate to high yields of well-spaced, uniform sprouts that had few Alternaria blight (Alternaria sp.) symptoms, and identified many others, including all red cultivars evaluated, that produced very low yields consistently. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, we used a replicated split-plot experimental design with cultivar as the main plot and topping treatment as the subplot, to evaluate the effects of topping plants. Early and midseason cultivars showed increased yields in response to topping, unless topping was performed too early. Cultivars with sprouts that did not reach marketable size within our growing season generally produced low yields, and topping had no effect on yields. To explore the effects of topping at different dates, we evaluated three cultivars on seven different topping dates plus an untopped control in 2015 and 2017. In addition to reducing stalk height by limiting late-season growth, topping affected marketable yields by affecting the number of sprouts that were either undersized or oversized. The ideal topping date window for minimizing defects and maximizing yields varied slightly for each cultivar, ranging from early to late September.