Machinery and Equipment Guide

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Machinery and equipment required for cabbage production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares basic machinery and equipment needs for cabbage production. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment, engage a custom service provider or possibly rent and operate the necessary equipment.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

Several tillage operations can prepare cabbage planting sites. For sites that have previously grown cover crops, schedule plowing at least one month within the intended planting date. Cover crop residues require adequate time to degrade. When a planting site has residues, mowing and disking or disking alone could help to manage those residues before using a moldboard plow. Subsoiling may be necessary if a site has compaction deeper than or near the moldboard plowing depth. Before planting, use a rotary tiller, bed press, bedding disk or double disk hiller with leveling board for final site preparation. One of these operations would address any weed and soil crusting issues. For spring cabbage plantings, consider fall plowing. If using fall tillage, then ensure that the site isn’t susceptible to erosion.

Although producers can plant cabbage in a flat bed or raised bed, this model assumes using raised beds. With raised beds, soil temperatures will warm more quickly, and producers may capitalize on earliness and drainage benefits. However, during dry conditions, raised beds may require more regular irrigation. For operations using irrigation, they have several system options, including sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation. The latter may be preferable for operations that use cabbage as a double crop, and a second crop would grow in the mulched bed with drip-irrigation system installed.

Apply fertilizer using broadcast or band placement. Other recommendations suggest that splitting the application by using broadcasting for half and banding for half may minimize root burning. To make broadcast applications more effective, consider modifying the approach by exclusively broadcasting product in the bed area. After broadcasting fertilizer, producers may benefit from using a rotary tiller to incorporate the fertilizer. This operation would minimize the effect of water and wind on the fertilizer, and fertilizer placement may enter the root zone. Later in the growing season, producers can provide supplemental nitrogen through sidedress applications.

To plant cabbage transplants, producers can use a tobacco setter. If directly seeding cabbage, then choose a precision seeder, which can ensure that cabbage has the correct spacing for single seeds. By using a precision seeder, producers limit the need to thin cabbage stands. Planting with a precision seeder can also more efficiently use cabbage seed. Per acre, producers would generally allocate 1 pound of seed with a precision seeder relative to 1 pound to 2 pounds when drilling cabbage seed. This model assumes that the operation uses transplants and would require a transplanter.

Mechanical cultivation may serve as one approach to managing weeds during cabbage production. Restrict cultivation to an as-needed basis, and it should be shallow. Cultivation methods shouldn’t reach deeper than 2 inches. Without proper monitoring, mechanical cultivation operations could prune plant roots or damage cabbage leaves. The cultivation also shouldn’t lead to covering the crop with soil; this would be a potential problem for cabbage stands developed through direct seeding. If using insecticides, fungicides, herbicides or foliar fertilizers, then boom sprayers and air-assisted sprayers could be used.

Cabbage production relies on hand harvesting. To assist the cabbage harvest, some producers may integrate harvest aids like conveyors. Such aids can minimize labor expenses, enhance efficiency and decrease bruising incidence. When cooling harvested cabbage, vacuum coolers or forced air coolers work well. Room coolers provide an alternative. Because cabbages are sensitive to ethylene, ensure that your operation has adequate cold storage space to avoid cabbage exposure to ethylene.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Cabbage Production

Tractor X
Mower X
Disk X
Moldboard plow X
Subsoiler X
Rotary tiller X
Bed shaper X
Drip-irrigation system X
Broadcast spreader X
Sidedresser X
Tobacco setter X
Boom sprayer X
Harvest conveyor X
Cold storage X



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