Submitted to: Vegetable Association Yearbook (North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association)
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 15, 2007
Publication Date: December 11, 2007
Citation: Farnham, M.W. 2007. Producing Broccoli in the Southeastern United States. Vegetable Association Yearbook (North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association) 2007. p. 51. Technical Abstract: U.S. Production of broccoli has increased dramatically in the last two or three decades to satisfy increasing demand for this vegetable by consumers, and it is now one of the most economically important vegetables with a national farm-gate value exceeding 600 million dollars. Demand for broccoli has been stimulated by positive press citing it as a nutritious food rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that confers a positive impact on the health of individuals that consume it. Although a majority of U.S. broccoli production occurs in California, the increased cost of shipping broccoli to eastern markets is creating a new opportunity for southeastern growers to compete with California growers in producing this commodity. Traditionally, autumn is the best season in which to produce broccoli in the Southeast. Spring production is also possible in most areas and in certain locations, winter production may be feasible. However, production during hot and humid summer months is not likely to be an option in the near future. A grower in the Southeast must consider several factors when attempting to produce this crop. Depending on the growing season, these factors will include cultivar selection, deciding whether to direct seed or transplant, choosing a fertilization scheme and plant population, planning disease and pest management, and choosing a target market (e.g., crown, bunch, or process). Although broccoli will likely prove a more challenging crop to grow than cole crops like collard and cabbage more commonly produced in the Southeast, high quality broccoli could become a lucrative crop for innovative producers. A key to making this a successful southeastern crop will likely prove to be finding local markets to sell the commodity. Choice of an appropriate cultivar will be an especially critical factor that could spell success or failure of the crop. Although most available cultivars were bred for California environments, future efforts may be made to develop new cultivars better adapted to southeastern conditions.