QUESTION: Should I prune my broccoli plants? Will it help to harvest more broccoli? -Ken P
ANSWER: Broccoli plants are designed to produce one main, large head at the top of its central stalk and smaller clusters, or florets grow around the lower stalk. Depending on what season you are planting in (spring or fall) and what you want to get out of your broccoli harvest, there are three different ways that you can prune back your broccoli plants.
About one month after transplanting your broccoli plant into the garden, in the early spring or fall, you may choose to pinch out the newly developing central head using your fingers. Pruning the central head will force several large side shoots to develop as opposed to a large central head and numerous smaller side shoots.
Studies have shown that pinching off all lateral or side shoots during the growing season will result in the development of a larger central head. The overall yield size is also increased using this method.
Finally, the most common way to prune your broccoli plants is to harvest the central head when it is finished growing, then allow the smaller side shoots to develop, harvesting them as they are ready. Using this method, you can continue to harvest your broccoli plants for up to three months in the fall, and until the plant starts to bolt in the spring.