Brussel sprouts are a biennial crop that begin to flower and seed during their second year of growth. Brussel sprouts develop seed pods that contain the seeds that can be harvested and stored for later planting.
While the actual sprouts themselves do not contain seeds (they resemble a small cabbage) the plant does produce seeds. The seeds are derived from the seed pods which grow on the plant, and can be harvested for replanting in following seasons.
Brussel sprouts are a part of the Brassica family, which also includes kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Brussel Sprouts are a hardy, slow-growing, long season crop.
Brussel sprouts can be grown in many climates, but prefer to be grown in a cool climate that receives adequate rainfall throughout the growing season. The sprouts are produced on the leaf’s axils, beginning at the base of the stem and growing upward.
What Do Brussel Sprout Seeds Look Like?
Brussel sprout seeds come from the seed stalk which grows off the main vine of the plant. Seeds pods are thin, long pods that contain the seeds. The seeds are small, blackish spheres.
There are generally 10-15 seeds within a pod that can be harvested and dried out. The dried out pods can be stored in a cool, dry area for up to four years.
How Do Brussel Sprouts Reproduce?
A primary method of seed reproduction is the in-situ method, which means seed to seed reproduction. Aside from the in-situ method, brussel sprout seed crops can also be replanted in autumn.
In general, the in-situ method is utilized for certified seed production. For seed production that follows the in-situ method, the crop is left through the winter and produces seeds in the original location in which they were planted.
Brussel sprouts reproduce from seeds. After the plant has survived the winter, seed stalks will emerge from the plants. Once seed pods have begun to dry out and appear brown, the seeds are ready for harvest.
Seed pods should be brought indoors and dried out for several weeks. Once properly dried out, the pods should be broken down to obtain the seed. Seeds should then be cleaned and stored in a cool, dry place until desired planting time.
Typically, Brussel Sprout seeds can last for four years before they will no longer produce.
When growing Brussel Sprouts for seed production, it is important that brussel sprouts are planted with sufficient space between them.
Brussel sprouts should be planted in rows that are at least three feet apart, with seeds being sown 18-24 inches apart from one another. It is recommended that Brussel sprouts be staked up if planting for seed production.
Where Do Brussel Sprout Seeds Come From?
A major site for brussel sprout seed growing is in Washington state. Brussel sprouts are part of the Brassica family, and over 15 types of Brassica seeds are grown in the state of Washington.
Approximately 1,500 acres are utilized per year to grow Brassica vegetable seeds, grossing anywhere between $1,500 and $6,500 per acre annually.
Brassica seed growth in Washington state and certain regions of Oregon account for 50% of the United States’ supply and 25% of the world’s supply.
The majority of Brassica seeds are biennial, leading the plant to flower and seed in the second year of growth, having already been exposed to fall and winter conditions.
To ensure successful seed production of brussel sprouts, it is important that the land in which brussel sprouts are being planted are free from volunteer plants, plants that grow on their own without having been planted usually from previous crops.
Brussel sprouts thrive in a cool, moist climate with moderate rainfall that is evenly distributed during the growing season. Flowering and seed production of brussel sprouts occur in the second year of growth.
These climate preferences are suggestive as to why Washington state is such a promising place for growing Brassica seeds. It is interesting to note that in India, for example, brussel sprout seeds are only possible to produce on hilly areas. Since brussel sprout seeds are biennial, the heads of the crop become apparent in the first year, and second production occurs in the second year.
Brussel sprouts are also grown in New York, having become successfully acclimated to the climate. Specifically, brussel sprouts are grown on approximately 88 farms in New York, over 58 acres that are harvested for fresh production, and two acres are utilized for processing. Since brussel sprouts are cool season crops, they are successfully grown in New York weather conditions.
Can You Eat Brussel Sprout Seed Pods?
Yes you can eat brussel sprout seed pods and brussel sprout leaves! Brussel sprout seed pods may even have some spiciness to them.
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