Pechay (Brassica rapa L. cv group Pak Choi) is an erect, biennial herb, cultivated as an annual about 15-30 cm tall in vegetative stage. Ovate leaves are arranged spirally and spreading. The petioles are enlarged and grow upright forming a subcylindrical bundle. Inflorescence is a raceme with pale yellow flowers. Seeds are 1 mm in diameter and are reddish to blackish brown in color.
(Source: Department of Agriculture, Date accessed 25 March 2014)
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Climatic and Soil Requirements
Pechay can be grown from low to mid elevations throughout the year.
Production is best, however, during the dry season in sandy to clay loam soil, with a pH of 5.5-6.5.
A1-ha production area requires kg seeds.
Pechay can either be sown directly in soil or transplanted. Direct seeding is carried out by broadcasting or by sowing in rows. Cover seeds to a depth of about 1 cm by raking or spreading additional topsoil. Water immediately after sowing. Plant spacing should be 10 cm between plants and 20 cm between rows.
If transplanted, sow seeds initially in seedbeds. Transplant seedlings 2-3 weeks after sowing at a distance of 10 cm between plants and 20 cm between rows.
Transplant preferably in the afternoon and water immediately. Mulch with grass clippings or rice straw.
Sow seeds thinly on shallow furrows across the seedbed/seedboxes, and cover lightly with fine top soil. Do not broadcast seeds when sowing to avoid thick germination in one place.
Water the seedbed/seedbox daily using a sprinkler so as not to expose the seeds which might be eaten by insects. However, when seeds have germinated, regulate watering to produce sturdy seedlings.
Weeding, watering and other cultural management practices should be regularly done until the seedlings are ready for transplanting, or after about one month.
Moisten thoroughly the seedbed a day before pricking out the seedlings for transplanting. This will facilitate easy pricking out of seedlings for transplanting from the seedbed to minimize root injury.
Gently prick out the seedlings and transplant them in the prepared plots or in pots, after which water adequately the plots or pots.
Spacing usually depends on the variety of pechay to be planted but the common distance used is 15 cm between hills and 20 cm between rows.
Apply seedlings with starter solution using urea (46-0-0) at the rate of 2 tbsp/gal of water. Side-dress along the rows at the rate of 1 tbsp/plant one week after transplanting.
Pest and Disease Management
Damping-off, soft rot and clubroot are the most important diseases of pechay, while diamondback moth and aphids are the major insect pests.
Spraying hot pepper extract can control these pests. When seedlings begin to wilt, reduce watering immediately. Uproot and burn disease-infected plants to prevent spread of diseases.
Cultivation is also necessary to minimize weeds.
Care and Maintenance
Apply liberal amount of organic fertilizer at the base of the plants, then cover lightly with soil and water immediately.
Water the plant whenever necessary or depending on your own judgment or observation of the plant.
Weeding must also be done to minimize competition for soil nutrients. However, weed carefully so as not to disturb the roots of the pechay.
To control pests and diseases, spray the right amount/dosage of pesticides as prescribed on the label, which should never be increased. If possible, plant green onions along the sides of the plot. This plant is offensive to some insects/pests and thus would act as a deterrent to the attack of some insects/pests to the crops. Mechanical or hand picking of worms may be resorted to on a limited number of plants.
Harvest as early as three weeks after planting or between 30-40 days after sowing. Harvest preferably in the afternoon to minimize postharvest losses.
Upon harvesting, wash the plants, trim old leaves and remove roots.
Grade according to size and quality, and pack in strong rigid containers with holes at the sides to allow aeration.
Pack with the base of the plant to the sides of the baskets. Maintain turgidity by lining the basket with paper.