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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Development of An East Coast Broccoli Industry

Location: Vegetable Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Breed for quality broccoli improvements desired by East Coast consumers. 2. Identify experimental hybrids with potential for further development. 3. Release hybrids that extend the growing window for broccoli production. 4. Produce sufficient seed of new released hybrids. 5. Develop a reliable grower base. 6. Establish an eastern broccoli distribution system.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Inbred broccoli lines adapted to the Southeast will be selected, and new hybrid combinations will be made using those lines. Regional trials will be established in the Southeast for testing new broccoli hybrids. ARS hybrids will be input into these trials along with hybrids from other programs. Extension guidance to new broccoli growers will be provided. Nutritional content of eastern broccoli will be determined to identify distinctness. This effort is a project under the “Specialty Crops Research Initiative”.


3.Progress Report:

This research relates to inhouse project objective 3: Develop lines of broccoli improved for economically important traits.

Regional trial leaders of the East Coast Broccoli Project and supporting personnel met in Asheville, NC on December 9 to recap activities of the 2011 growing season and to refine protocols for: the second year of Phase One trials; the first Phase Two trials; evaluation of all test plots; and also the processing and shipment of all samples for nutritional analysis. All leaders in attendance at the annual meetings of the American Society for Horticultural Science met again on August 1 to discuss the progress of the current 2012 growing season. In addition to the two face-to-face meetings, phone conferences involving all CoPIs were held every quarter when quarterly reports were submitted. In late December, seed of seven U.S. Vegetable Laboratory hybrids were sent to the project PI at Cornell for inclusion in the 2012 Phase One broccoli trials. During the winter of 2011-12, all broccoli selections made during the summer and fall of 2011 were self and cross pollinated in the greenhouse to generate adequate seed supplies of specific inbreds and hybrids for future testing. In addition, one outdoor cage was used to generate seed of three different hybrids to be included in the 2013 Phase One trials. Year 2, Phase One trials (with 39 hybrid entries) were conducted and successfully completed in Charleston during the spring growing season as planned. The first Phase One trial was transplanted March 1 and the second on March 15, and all plots were evaluated by June 1. Three Phase Two trials (with 12 hybrid entries) were conducted at Charleston with transplanting completed on March 1, 15, and 22. Head samples from the second Phase Two trial were harvested, frozen, and shipped to Knoxville for nutritional testing, and all Phase Two trials were completed the first week of June. There was a wide range in overall head quality observed in the 2012 spring trials, but warm, and higher than normal temperatures during much of the spring, caused quality ratings to be generally low. Indeed, as heads matured, many indicative signs of heat damage including low bead uniformity, bracts in the heads, and light green to yellow head color, were observed on many heads. In spite of these warm conditions, two or three of the Phase Two hybrids (which are available commercially) have shown good potential for spring production in the Southeast region. Two additional Phase Two trials are being initiated with plans to transplant seedlings to the field in September. Numerous heat tolerant broccoli selections were identified in summer breeding nurseries that were transplanted to the field in late May at Charleston. Cuttings from some of these selections were taken in order to clone the plants. When no cuttings were evident, plants were dug from the field and moved to a greenhouse. All of these selections will be maintained until they can be pollinated in the fall.


Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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