Broccoli crowns began appearing in North Carolina Eastern Broccoli Quality trial plots in late June. Evaluations of hybrids in that planting are now about 90 percent complete. Broccoli hybrids in the second planting, which was transplanted on June 12, are just beginning to show signs of heading. A third planting went in the ground last week.
The season in Western NC started out hot, then turned cooler in late June. Summer heat and humidity returned in July. Some Alternaria and secondary fungal infections related to minor insect damage have been noted but managed.
The limited amounts of seed available for new hybrids means that Quality trials plots are necessarily small. To achieve results that are representative of performance, plots of 15 plants per hybrid are replicated three times per planting, with three plantings per season happening at each Quality trial location.
Carol Dong, Graduate Research Assistant with Miguel Gómez at Cornell University, recently visited broccoli growers and food hubs in southwest Virginia to collect information on local production and postharvest practices and costs. She was accompanied by Agricultural Consultant Wythe Morris, who helped put together the itinerary, and Virginia Tech Extension agent Ashley Edwards.
Despite some challenges, the growers in Southwest Virginia are optimistic about broccoli and consider it an attractive crop. Dong learned about cultural practices and cost drivers in the region and will use the information to update crop budgets developed in 2012. Labor costs have increased, but that expense has been offset by a decrease in the cost of diesel. The overall cost of production is not expected to be significantly different than it was in 2012.
At the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market and Appalachian Harvest, Dong observed various cooling technologies related to her work on cost efficiencies and supply chain optimization. Top icing and refrigeration are commonly used for cooling the broccoli in the region.
The Eastern Broccoli Project includes an extensive, two-tiered trial system for conducting evaluations of new broccoli hybrids to determine which are most suitable for eastern production. Broccoli hybrids developed by seed companies and public breeding programs Continue reading The Eastern Broccoli Trial System→
In Charleston, South Carolina, Brian Ward (in photo below) is supervising and evaluating the first Eastern Broccoli Quality trial of the year at the Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center. Quality trials let us compare new hybrids and current commercial Continue reading Broccoli evaluations starting in South Carolina→
Broccoli is ready for harvest at a new Eastern Broccoli trial site in Tifton, GA. Tim Coolong of the University of Georgia is supervising the trial, which was transplanted at Lewis Taylor Farms in late February. Broccoli hybrids grown in this commercial production Continue reading First trial at new site in Georgia→
The last planting of the season is starting to head in Hastings, FL, a major winter-production region for Eastern broccoli. University of Florida Prof. Lincoln Zotarelli is running both Quality and Yield Trials in Hastings so adaptation to this production system is addressed Continue reading Spring broccoli in Hastings, Florida→
Producers Rebecca Davis and Matt Toder of NBC Universal visited our trial site in Geneva to film a segment for their new feature on The Future of Food. The future does look bright for broccoli! Thanks for making us part of the story.
The Eastern Broccoli Project was successful in its renewal application, so we are moving ahead for another five years. We were awarded two years of funding and approved for an additional three years. Thanks very much to all the collaborators who made this such a high-ranking application, and to the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative for funding it.
As we ramp up activities during September, you will see more news on this blog.
An SCRI funded project to make broccoli a major eastern crop