Carew, H. John Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
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A cool-season biennial crucifer (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera), which is of northern European origin and belongs to the plant order Capparales (Brassicales). The name Brussels sprouts is derived from the capital of Belgium, where this vegetable crop was originally cultivated in the 1500s. The plant is grown for its small headlike buds formed in the axils of the leaves along the plant stem (see illustration). These buds are eaten as a cooked vegetable. Cultural practices are similar to those used for cabbage; however, monthly mean temperatures lower than 21°C (70°F) are necessary for firm sprouts. Brussels sprouts are moderately tolerant of acid soils and have a high requirement for boron. Popular varieties (cultivars) are Half Dwarf and Catskill, but hybrid varieties (for example, Jade Cross) are increasingly planted. Harvesting begins when the lower sprouts are firm and 2.5–5 cm (1–2 in.) in diameter; this occurs usually 3 months after planting. California is the most important producer of Brussels sprouts in the United States, with Washington and New York also contributing lesser amounts. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany are other major producers of Brussels sprouts. See also: Cabbage; Capparales; Horticultural crops
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