Cabbage Troubleshooting

Cabbage Troubleshooting - Solution Guide

Common Cabbage Issues & Prevention Methods

  • Little to no head development
    • Due to dry soils.
      • Prevention: keep plants consistently watered and apply 2-3 inches of mulch.
    • Due to overcrowding.
      • Prevention: properly space plants at planting or when thinning seedlings.
  • Holes in leaves
    • Large holes with skeletonized leaves
      • Prevention by exclusion is the best control measure. Utilize grow tunnels or floating row covers to prevent adult moths from accessing plants for egg-laying. If worms are found, apply bio-insecticide with bacillus thuringiensis (BT), like Thuricide® by Bonide®.
    • Holes in the middle of leaves or edges are chewed.
      • Prevention: Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth around plants or utilizing non-toxic baits such as Sluggo® Plus by Monterey or homemade, plastic, or tuna tins with a couple of tablespoons of beer or cider vinegar added to the traps. Snails or slugs seek it out and perish.
    • Partially eaten leaves or small leaf holes.
      • Prevention: This is done by exclusion, proper pre-season soil cultivation, and thorough area sanitation to limit weeds and garden debris as overwintering lairs. Beneficial insecticides include those with BT or Spinosad as the active ingredient or those that use insecticidal soap products.
  • Heads bolt (go to flower)
    • Caused by early season cold temperatures.
      • Prevention: Wait for consistent weather/temperatures to plant. Cabbage and Brassicas are cool-season crops. However, temperatures that get too cold for too long in early spring can trigger plants to bolt.
  • Splitting, cracking heads
    • Caused by high soil moisture.
      • Prevention: Ensure the soil has good drainage, maintain adequate water, and mulch around plants well. If the soil's moisture gets too high, twist the heads by 180 degrees, which helps limit water uptake by the roots.
  • Leaf margins browning
    • Older leaf edges turning brown or burning can be caused by a nutrient deficiency.
      • Prevention: Do a soil test every 3-5 years. Adjust pH to 7.0-7.5 for cabbage. Be diligent about developing healthy soils by adding ample organic matter and utilizing balanced, complete fertilizers, including % of calcium and boron.
    • Leaf centers or young leaf edges browning is typically due to lack of water.
      • Prevention: Apply adequate water and mulch well, limit pressures from pests and disease, and ensure proper soil pH and nutrient levels.