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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

2013 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 Myrtle Beach, SC, on November 27 and 28 to recap activities of the 2012 growing season and to discuss any recommended changes to protocols for: Phase One, Phase Two, and Phase Three broccoli 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 July 22 to discuss the progress of the current 2013 growing season. In addition to the two face-to-face meetings, phone conferences involving all investigators were held every quarter when quarterly reports were submitted. In early January, 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 along with seed of four hybrids for Phase Two trials. During the winter of 2012-13, all broccoli selections made during the summer and fall of 2012 were self and cross pollinated in the greenhouse to generate adequate seed supplies of specific inbreds and hybrids for future testing. In addition, two outdoor cages were used to generate seed of six different hybrids, three of which are included in the 2013 Phase One trials. Year 2, Phase One trials (with 36 hybrid entries) were conducted and successfully completed in Charleston during the spring growing season as planned. The first Phase One trial was transplanted March 8 and the second on March 28, and all plots were evaluated by June 1. Three Phase Two trials (with 15 hybrid entries) were conducted at Charleston with transplanting completed on March 8, 18, and 28. Head samples from the third Phase Two trial were harvested, frozen, freeze-dried, 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 2013 spring trials, but cold, and wetter than normal temperatures during much of the spring, caused quality ratings to be generally low. Indeed, an unusual amount of premature heading occurred during this season. In spite of these adverse cool conditions, a few hybrids were still rated high. 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 many selections were taken in order to clone the plants; when no cuttings were evident, whole plants were dug from the field and moved to a greenhouse. All of these selections will be maintained until they can be pollinated in late fall.


Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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