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Title: Performance of current broccoli varieties under eastern U.S. conditions

item GRIFFITHS, P - Cornell University
item Farnham, Mark
item HUTTON, M - University Of Maine
item DAVIS, J - North Carolina State University
item MORRIS, W - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item BJORKMAN, T - Cornell University

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2012
Publication Date: 10/15/2012
Citation: Griffiths, P.D., Farnham, M.W., Hutton, M., Davis, J.M., Morris, W., Bjorkman, T. 2012. Performance of current broccoli varieties under eastern U.S. conditions. HortScience. 47(9):S274.

Interpretive Summary: N/A

Technical Abstract: Broccoli production on the east coast has been limited because the weather often causes developmental defects in the head that make the crop unsalable. As a result of the small market for seeds, there has been limited effort to develop varieties that have better tolerance of the growing conditions. As the initial step in a large new public-private breeding effort to develop such varieties, we conducted a regional trial across the East Coast in 2011 using existing commercial material. This trial was conducted in five locations representing a broad range of eastern climates (Southern Maine, Western New York, Piedmont Virginia, Mountain North Carolina, and Coastal South Carolina). At each site, the 32 entries were planted once when the weather was likely to be most favorable (to show potential), and once when the growing conditions are good but the chance of defects is too high for commercial production (to assess adaptation to the east). Evaluators used a common scale, and practiced calibration to evaluate eleven traits that have been quality limitations in eastern broccoli. These traits included bead (i.e. flower bud) uniformity, bead size, plot uniformity, head extension, head uniformity, holding ability, proportion of marketable heads, dome, color, days to maturity, and head firmness. The trials were conducted under confidentiality agreements that preclude revealing the identity of varieties in this context. The entries included standards selected by the public breeders as representing varieties commonly planted in the east. Participating seed companies (Bejo Seed, Seminis Vegetable Seed, and Syngenta Vegetable Seeds) were asked to complement with commercial material they felt might perform well. The commonly planted varieties performed similarly to those selected by the seed companies, indicating that growers are accessing the best currently available material. However, none of these varieties consistently produced marketable-quality product. Thus there is room for improvement. Several entries were in limited marketing as numbered material. These were among the strongest performers, indicating that there is notably better material in the pipeline. Principal Component Analysis showed that difficult traits, like high bead uniformity, were not negatively associated with essential traits like small bead size and domed head.