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Publication #HS1101

Selecting Collard Varieties Based on Yield, Plant Habit and Bolting1

S. M. Olson and J. H. Freeman2

Introduction

Collard (Fig. 1) (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala DC) is one of the most primitive members of the cabbage family. They are closely related to kale and cabbage and could be described as a non-heading cabbage. They originated in the eastern Mediterranean or Asia Minor and have changed little in the thousands of years that man has used them for food. Collards are a traditional vegetable for the southeastern United States and are not as popular in the rest of the United States. They are grown for the rosette of smooth, rather thick and tender leaves that are used as greens or pot herbs. The usual commercial practice is to harvest the whole rosette and make bunches. Collards are usually packed into 25 lb boxes, with each box containing 12 bunches. For some markets only the leaves may be harvested or cropped, washed, petioles removed, chopped and bagged for market. Collards are low in calories and fat but are excellent sources of fiber, Vitamins A, C and K, calcium, manganese and folic acid. They are also a good source of Vitamins B2, B3, B6 and E and magnesium. People on blood thinners such as coumidan should be careful because of high Vitamin K content and people prone to kidney stones should be careful because of oxalate content.

Figure 1. 

Collard field.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

The plant is a biennial or potentially perennial under certain conditions. It can produce a hard stalk up to 4 feet tall bearing a loose crown of leaves. Collards are a cool season crop and can be difficult to grow in Forida during the summer without shade. Many people feel that collards are sweeter when harvested after a frost. Adverse conditions (cold temperatures) during production can cause the plants to produce premature seedstalks (bolting). Bolting is caused by an interaction of plant size (age) and cold temperatures. There is not an exact temperature that will cause bolting to occur. Large plants when subjected to cold temperatures are more susceptible to bolting than young plants subjected to the same temperature. Young plants are very resistant to bolting especially if they have been hardened off. There are also varietal differences in susceptibility to bolting.

The most common disease problems associated with collard production include Alternaria leaf spot, downy mildew and black rot. The most common insect pests include aphids, lepidopteran larvae (caterpillar pests), mole crickets (seedlings or young transplants), whiteflies, and at times root maggots.

Collards are available on the market all year round with peak supplies from November through April.

Variety Testing

Since 1983 more than 23 replicated variety trials have been conducted on collards at the North Florida Research and Education Center at Quincy. Data will be presented from the last 14 trials conducted since 1999. Varieties evaluated include Bulldog, Champion, Flash, Georgia, Hi Crop (previously sold in the United States as Blue Max), Morris Heading, Top Bunch, and Vates. A detailed description of each variety will be provided later. Planting dates were 16 Nov 1999, 14 Dec 1999, 13 Jan 2000, 22 Feb 2000, 20 Sept 2000, 5 Feb 2001, 24 Sept 2001, 23 Jan 2002, 1 Oct 2002, 8 Jan 2003, 9 March 2004, 24 Sept 2004, 11 Jan 2005, 3 Oct 2005, 10 Oct 2008, and 24 September 2009. Harvest dates were 13 March 2000, 11 April 2000, 19 May 2000, 25 May 2000, 12 Dec 2000, 30 April 2001, 28 Nov 2001 17 April 2002, 3 Dec 2002, 18 April 2003, 21 May 2004, 30 Nov 2004, 25 April 2005, 14 Dec 2005, 14 Jan 2009, and 16 December 2009, respectively. Soil type in each planting date was Orangeburg loamy fine sand. In-row spacing was 12 inches and between row spacing was 3 feet. Total fertilizer applied was 160-80-80 lb/A of N-P2O5-K2O. Pesticides were applied as needed. Design was a randomized complete block design with four replications. Data collected included yield, plant weight and percent plants bolting.

Results

The results are presented in two tables. Table 1 has data from trials where no bolting occurred and Table 2 has data from trials were bolting occurred. A mean separation was not used because not all varieties were present in all trials. Bulldog and Tiger are two new varieties from Sakata Seed Company. Bulldog has been included in the three most recent trials and has performed as well as or better than other hybrid varieties. The growth habit and yield potential of Tiger is advertised to be similar to Top Bunch but Tiger has not been included in variety trials at NFREC.

Variety Descriptions

Bulldog (Fig. 2) is an F1 hybrid from Sakata Seed Company. It has an upright growth habit with slightly savoyed, dark green leaves. This variety has only been included in three of the most recent variety trials. In these trials it was among the highest yielding varieties and has performed similarly to other hybrid varieties.

Figure 2. 

Bulldong collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Champion (Fig. 3) is a selection from Vates. It is very uniform for an open pollinated (OP) variety. It has smooth, dark-green leaves with short internodes. Plant habit is low growing. Yield potential is moderate (Table 1). Of all the varieties trialed Champion had the least severe problem with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 3. 

Champion collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flash (Fig. 4) is an F1 hybrid from Sakata Seed Company. It is a very uniform Vates type with smooth, dark-green leaves. Unlike Vates, growth is upright and lends well to bunching. Yield potential is excellent under many different planting conditions (Table 1, 2). Of the hybrids (four planting dates), Flash had the least problem with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 4. 

Flash collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Georgia (Fig. 5) is one of the older OP varieties available. It is also known as Georgia LS and Georgia Southern. These may be selections but a reference to this was not found. It has blue-green and slightly savoyed leaves. Plant type is not very uniform. Yield potential is low to moderate depending upon growing conditions (Table 1, 2). Georgia had the most severe problem with bolting among the OP varieties (Table 2).

Figure 5. 

Georgia collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Hi Crop (Fig. 6) (previously sold in the United States as Blue Max) is an F1 hybrid collard from Takii Seed Company. It has very attractive, slightly savoyed, blue-green leaves. Leaves have close internode spacing and can be a little more difficult to bunch than some varieties. Under good growing conditions Hi Crop has high yield potential (Table 1). This variety had the most severe problem with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 6. 

Hi Crop collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Morris Heading (Fig. 7) is an old OP variety. It is also known as cabbage collards. It has medium green and slightly savoyed leaves. Its main use at this time is for home gardens and local sales. Yield potential is medium to low depending upon growing conditions (Table 1, 2). Of the OP varieties, only Georgia had a greater problem with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 7. 

Morris Heading collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Tiger (Fig 8) is a F1 hybrid from Sakata Seed Company. It has an upright Georgia type growth habit with slightly savoyed blue-green leaves. This variety is primarily suited to fresh market use. This variety has not been tested in the variety trials at NFREC.

Figure 8. 

Tiger collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Top Bunch (Fig. 9) is an F1 hybrid from Sakata Seed Company. It is a very uniform Georgia type with slightly savoyed, medium blue-green leaves. Plant habit is tall and semi-erect and lends easily to bunching. Yields average near the bottom of the hybrid varieties (Table 1, 2). Of the hybrids only Blue Max had a greater problem with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 9. 

Top Bunch collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Vates (Fig. 10) is an OP release from the Virginia Truck Experiment Station many years ago. Plant is compact and leaves are smooth and dark green. For an OP variety, it is fairly uniform. Yield potential is moderate (Table 1, 2) and only Champion had fewer problems with bolting (Table 2).

Figure 10. 

Vates collards.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Other varieties that have been evaluated over the years are America, Carolina and Green Glaze. America and Carolina are no longer available for the commercial trade. Green Glaze can still be found at times but has little commercial value due to its light green leaves and the greasy appearance of its leaves. Green Glaze, also know as greasy collards, has excellent resistance to worm pests. Green Glaze also has a problem with a high percentage of off-types that appear to be normal colored.

Our data indicates an advantage to using the hybrids over the OP varieties based on yield (Table 1, 2), the top four varieties are hybrids (Table 1). Another advantage that the hybrids have is that they produce a very uniform crop as to maturity and plant type (few off-types). Many of the OPs have a lot of off-types present. One disadvantage is that the hybrids cost 10 to 20 times more than the OP varieties but the majority of large growers have switched to the hybrids.

Tables

Table 1. 

Yield and plant weight of nine collard varieties when grown under good to optimum conditionsZ. NFREC-Quincy

Variety

Seed Source

Open-pollinated (OP) or Hybrid

Yield

(25 lb crates/A)

Plant weight

(lbs)

FlashY

Sakata

Hybrid

1934

3.44

Hi Crop

Takii

Hybrid

1830

3.46

Top Bunch

Sakata

Hybrid

1761

3.34

Heavi-Crop

Takii

Hybrid

1640

2.87

Vates

Many sources

OP

1553

2.81

Georgia

Many sources

OP

1525

2.86

Champion

Many sources

OP

1480

2.65

Morris Heading

Many sources

OP

1457

2.76

Z Planting dates were 20 Sept 2000, 5 Feb 2001, 24 Sept 2001, 23 Jan 2002, 1 Oct 2002, 8 Jan 2003, 9 March 2004, 24 Sept 2004, and 3 Oct 2005.

Y Only planted on last three dates.

Table 2. 

Yield, plant weight and percent bolting of nine collard varieties when grown under conditions conducive to boltingZ. NFREC-Quincy.

Variety

Seed Source

Open-pollinated (OP) or Hybrid

Yield

(25 lb crates/A)

Plant weight

(lbs)

Bolting

(%)

FlashY

Sakata

Hybrid

2302

4.24

10.4

Champion

Many sources

OP

1979

3.70

4.5

Heavi-Crop

Sakata

Hybrid

1914

3.87

16.0

Top Bunch

Takii

Hybrid

1746

3.29

38.3

Morris Heading

Many sources

OP

1730

3.63

19.5

Vates

Many sources

OP

1680

3.34

9.8

Georgia

Many sources

OP

1459

3.59

30.6

Hi Crop

Takii

Hybrid

1162

2.18

40.6

Z Planting dates were 16 Nov 1999, 14 Dec 1999, 13 Jan 2000, 22 Feb 2000, and 11 Jan 2005.

Y Only planted on last date.

Footnotes

1.

This document is HS1101 one of a series of the Department of Horticultural Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Publication date: May 2007. Reviewed August 2010. Revised October 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

S. M. Olson, professor, and J. Freeman, assistant professor, North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy FL.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.