• Soil texture
    Medium heavy to heavy nutrient rich soils
  • Min. temperature
    Germination temperature above 15°C
  • pH
    In neutral zone, optimum pH: 7.0
  • Water demand
    Min. 600l/m2 or irrigated
  • Vernalisation
    Generative in the 2nd year
  • Plant density
    Depending on type and use, Fresh market produce: 40,000-60,000 plants/ha Industrial cabbage: 27,000-33,000 plants/ha
  • Seeding Depth
    1.5-3cm with direct sowing
Deep, medium to heavy, humus-rich loamy soils and light soils with high groundwater levels are particularly suitable for growing white cabbage. At least four years of crop rotation is required where neither cruciferous plants (e.g. rape, mustard) nor any other types of cabbage were grown. In addition, they should not be grown in areas with turnip-nematode cysts. White cabbage thrives best at a balanced temperature and high humidity. Due to the long growing season, a mild autumn is optimal.
Key facts
  • high water requirements
  • high potash requirements
  • large yield differences between fresh market and industrial goods - adjust fertilization
  • two (to three) applications using NPK or NPK plus N
General Information
General Information
Nutrient Demand
Nutrient Demand
Cabbage - a crop with a long tradition
There is a difference between cabbage cultivated for the fresh market - which is mostly planted as seedlings (plantlets) - and industrial white cabbage - which is often a direct seeded crop. Sowing takes place from the end of April to the middle of May. To minimise risk (e.g. poor germination or flea beetle infestation), three seeds are sown together at a distance of 5cm and thinned with a hand hoe at the four to six leaf stage. The variety depends on the intended purpose (industrial or fresh market produce) and planned delivery period. Irrigation is usually necessary when the expected yield is more than 1,000dt/ha. The water requirement is highest during yield formation (mid July to mid September). The number of plant protection treatment applications ranges from 7 to 14. Usually one or two herbicides and one fungicide are sprayed, while the remaining treatments are insecticides. The amount of flea beetle damage is critical in the run-up phase, while mealy cabbage aphids and various caterpillar species is combated as the plants further develop.
Nutrient requirements for cabbage vary greatly depending on expected yield, its intended use, and harvest time. The N target value for fresh market product and summer harvest is 210kg N/ha while for industrial cabbage with a yield of 120t/ha it is 340kg N/ha. High amounts of nutrients remain on the soil surface due to cabbage harvest residues. Depending on the cabbage type, about 90kg N/ha, 30kg P2O5/ha, 100kg K2O/ha and 25kg MgO/ha remain for the subsequent crop. Those amounts increase with market preferences, if more organic material remains on the soil surface.
Extraction quantities for white cabbage



(Unit/t of production)


(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency




Very Sensitive








Very Sensitive










200 g/ha boron (B)

The table shows the uptake and removal of nutrients per tonne of white cabbage yield. White cabbage requires mainly nitrogen, phosphate and potash. For example, an industrial cabbage yield of 120t/ha extracts 336kg N/ha. If 36kg N/ha is supplied by the soil, another 300kg N/ha would need to be fertilized. Harvesting would remove 252kg N/ha from the field.

First application

Second (and third) application

First application

Nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizers before planting:
The basal nitrogen fertilization depends on the type of planting. Sixty kg N/ha are commonly applied before sowing, while planted seedlings are fertilized with 100kg N/ha as the plant's immediate nitrogen requirement is already significantly higher at this stage. For early planting under fleece, basal fertilization of 150-60kg N/ha is common. In well-supplied soils 60-90kg P2O5 /ha are applied, depending on the desired yield level. Compared to other crops, cabbage requires relatively small amounts of phosphate. Potash fertilization varies significantly between 230-350kg K2O /ha due to large yield differences and is split at high amounts into two applications. It is best to use NPK-fertilizers containing sulphur to address all nutrient requirements for the first application.

Second (and third) application

When N-fertilization is based on soil analysis (Nmin), the correct time for soil sampling is six to eight leaf stage (after singulation) at a depth of 0-60cm. The amount of nitrogen still missing (nominal value - basal fertilization - Nmin) is applied in two steps when the total requirement is more than 100kg N/ha. Stocks have to be dry during fertilization. Nitrogen in the form of cyanamide (urea) should not be applied shortly before or after any herbicides have been applied. The best time for the two top dressings is shortly after separation, and then about three weeks afterwards. Boron is supplemented with 200g boron/ha in high solution with water, avoiding application on very hot days. Whenever leaf-stem cross-cracks indicate a deficiency, the application should be repeated after one to two weeks. Dryness and/or pH values above 7 increase the risk of deficiency.