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.