BACKGROUND: A study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of agronomic practices, harvesting time and leaf age on the organic acid composition and biomass production of Brassica oleracea L. var. costata DC (tronchuda cabbage). Samples were cultivated under eight different fertilisation regimes (two levels each of nitrogen, boron and sulfur, an organic fertiliser and no fertiliser) and collected at three different times.
RESULTS: Principal component analysis of the data indicated significant differences. Three principal components with an eigenvalue higher than one accounted for 79.0% of the total variance of the data set. Samples obtained with conventional fertilisation were characterised by the highest values of fresh weight. External leaves showed higher total organic acid and malic acid contents than internal leaves, while the latter were characterised by higher proportions of citric acid. For consecutive harvests, total organic acid concentration decreased in both external and internal leaves.
CONCLUSION: The use of a conventional fertilisation regime (nitrogen, boron or sulfur) improved the growth of B. oleracea var. costatawithout affecting its organic acid profile. However, for consecutive harvests, total organic acid concentration was observed to decrease independently of the agronomic practices tested. Leaf age influenced the quantitative composition of organic acids. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry