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Research Project: Genetic Enhancement of Watermelon, Broccoli, and Leafy Brassicas for Economically Important Traits

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Establishing an eastern broccoli industry: where are we and where do we need to go?

item Farnham, Mark

Submitted to: North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association Yearbook
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2014
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Citation: Farnham, M.W. 2014. Establishing an eastern broccoli industry: where are we and where do we need to go?. Southeast Vegetable and Fruit Expo. North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association Yearbook. p43-44.

Interpretive Summary: N/A

Technical Abstract: A Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) entitled “Establishing an Eastern Broccoli Industry” has been underway since the fall of 2010 and funded under the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. This project has brought together researchers, extension professionals, growers, and representatives of other sectors of agribusiness including seed companies, vegetable processors, and retailers, who are all interested in broccoli becoming a commodity that can be readily produced and marketed along the eastern seaboard. A primary component of the project has been a system of regional hybrid broccoli trials conducted in several states from Florida to Maine. Hybrids tested in this trialing system have originated from three private seed companies and three public institution breeding programs. The entrance point into the system is designated as Phase One and entails two trials per year at regional sites in South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, and Maine. In all trials, hybrids are compared to standard check hybrids and given ratings for quality traits to determine which entries will be promoted to additional phases. Approximately 25% of Phase One entries are advanced to Phase Two wherein they are grown in five additional trials at each primary site from early spring through late fall. The top two or three hybrids from Phase Two are advanced to Phase Three which involves large strip trials conducted on farms of cooperating growers away from the regional test sites. Floret samples from heads harvested out of Phase Two trials have been assayed for levels of important phytonutrients to allow comparison of these eastern broccoli samples with others sourced from western productions. To gain better insight about consumer issues related to marketing broccoli, taste and sensory panels have been engaged to determine consumer preferences for eastern versus western broccoli. Demonstration trials have also been conducted by extension professionals in the cooperating states to determine appropriate management practices growers can employ to optimize quality and yield of harvested broccoli. In total, project activities have been instrumental in increasing the knowledge base of numerous extension workers and growers about the many facets of broccoli production, and have demonstrated that yields and quality of eastern-grown broccoli can be competitive with western productions. Added-value attached to “locally-grown” broccoli produced in the East, and new challenges (e.g., reduced water supplies) facing western growers, open the door to broccoli as an emerging eastern commodity.