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Broccoli Harvest and Re-Harvest

Broccoli flower clusters1

Broccoli flower clustersBroccoli is easy to grow and offers not one harvest but several.

Each plant grows two to three feet tall with a thick central stalk and several lateral branches. The central stalk is the first to bear a large cluster of tiny, dark green flower buds—the plant’s first harvest. After the central flower cluster is cut the plant will produce several smaller clusters on side branches, as many as six more harvests.

Broccoli is rich in calcium and iron and an excellent source of Vitamins A, B, and C. From seed broccoli will be ready for harvest in 80 to 90 days.

Here’s how to harvest and re-harvest broccoli:

The first flower cluster will form on the central stalk and be as large as 6 inches wide. Harvest the first flower cluster when it turns dark green. Use a knife to cut the flower head. Cut all heads so that a long stub remains on the plant.

Smaller flower clusters will soon sprout on side branches as they lengthen. These flower clusters will be about the size of large buttons. Cut new heads regularly to keep new flowers forming every few days. Each side branch will produce four to six cuttings.

Both the stem and flower buds are edible. Make every effort to harvest buds dark green and full, just before they flower.

The longest broccoli harvest is in the fall as the weather is cooling. In the spring expect regular harvests until the weather warms; warming weather will cause flower buds to open and bloom quickly.

Spring bearing broccoli plants bolt and flower when temperatures get close to 70°F. When broccoli flower heads begin to open and produce yellow flowers, trim the flowers—they are edible—and add them to salads or soups.

Broccoli varieties that are the most prolific are Early Packman, Saga, Mariner Hybrid, and Premium Crop.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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