Managing Brussels Sprouts for Fall Harvest

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

Brussels sprouts have gained popularity as a vegetable with consumers and growers on Delmarva have started producing the crop again for local sales. Larger acreages of Brussels sprouts were grown in the past on Delmarva and the area is well adapted for the crop in the fall.

Topping and lower leaf removal (kiting) will increase uniformity and yields in Brussels sprouts. Cut off the terminal (top) of plants when sprouts begin to form in mid-September. It will then take about 30 days for sprouts to fully develop. At the same time, remove the bottom leaves progressively as the sprouts develop to produce firmer sprouts.

Sprouts can be harvested from mid-October onward. Snap or cut sprouts from the stem successively from the bottom. Commonly, flavor is improved after a frost (sprouts are less bitter). Brussels sprouts will tolerate heavy frosts but will freeze once temperatures drop below 20°F.

Whole stalk harvest (once over) is also practiced. Cut the whole stalk when the majority of sprouts are at least 1.5 inches in diameter and remove any leaves.

Plants of the ‘Hestia’ Brussels sprout variety topped and/or with lower leaves removed (kiting) had much higher yields than untreated plants.

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