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Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue tours the US Vegetable Lab

The US Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC received a visit this past August from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who toured the facility and expressed his support for agricultural research, including the Eastern Broccoli Project.

The clip below, from RFD-TV via YouTube, shows some highlights from the tour. Our colleague Mark Farnham, who heads the broccoli breeding program at the Lab, appears in several clips. Quality trial leader and Clemson CREC Research Scientist Brian Ward supplied the broccoli seedlings and rating charts shown at 1:31, and Ward can be seen discussing the project with Purdue at 2:02.

Evaluation time for NC Quality trials

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.

Plot of broccoli with broccoli crowns,
Broccoli in North Carolina Quality trials began forming crowns in late June.
Evaluating broccoli crowns in North Carolina Quality trials
Margaret Bloomquist evaluates broccoli crowns in North Carolina Quality trials.

Broccoli Insights from Southwest Virginia

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.

Carol Dong discusses broccoli production with grower Duane Cassell and Virginia Extension Agent Ashley Edwards.
Carol Dong (right) discusses broccoli production with grower Duane Cassell and Virginia Extension Agent Ashley Edwards.
Broccoli in the cold storage room at the Southwest Virginia Farmers' Market.
Broccoli in the cold storage room at the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market.

First of three Quality trial plantings is in the ground in North Carolina

The first of three Quality trial plantings in Waynesville, NC was transplanted in mid-May.   The site is supervised by NC State Associate Professor Jeanine Davis, with help from Research Assistant Margaret Bloomquist.  Compared to other Eastern Continue reading First of three Quality trial plantings is in the ground in North Carolina


Eastern Broccoli Project trials will be on display this week as part of educational events in three states.

On Wednesday, August 19, a production trial will be featured in a Fresh Market Vegetable Twilight Meeting at W.D. Henry and Sons in Eden, NY. As part of the event, which runs from 6 to 8:30 pm, Cornell Vegetable Specialist Christy Hoepting and project director Thomas Björkman will lead a tour and discussion of Eastern Broccoli Project trials.

Also on August 19, Carroll County Virginia Extension Agent Suzanne Slack will host an informational session on growing summer broccoli. The event, which is advertised on the Carroll County Extension Facebook page, takes place at 6 pm on at Light’s Farm in Laurel Fork, VA.

From 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on August 20, broccoli project trials will be part of the Alternative Crops and Organics Research Highlights Tour held by Jeanine Davis and Margaret Bloomquist at North Carolina State University’s research station in Waynesville, NC. See for more information.

New GAPs Resources on Eastern Broccoli website


Becoming GAP-certified is essential for commercial growers, but the process can seem daunting – where do you start?!

The GAPs Resources page of the Eastern Broccoli website now features an introduction to Good Agricultural Practices for broccoli growers, including reasons to get certified, an overview of the certification process, and a look at broccoli production with GAPs.  Please check out the information if you are growing or thinking about growing broccoli but aren’t yet GAP-certified.

Winter broccoli trials in progress in Florida

Dr. Monica Ozores-Hampton and Dr. Lincoln Zotarelli supervise broccoli plantings at new trial locations in Immokalee and Hastings, Florida.   These large-scale trials feature an industry standard broccoli variety and two newer commercial hybrids that have displayed superior quality under stressful growing conditions in advanced screening trials.   Broccoli varieties will be evaluated based on production-relevant criteria such as yield, number of cuts to harvest, and field holding time.  The Hastings trial was direct-seeded in December 2013, while broccoli in the Immokalee trial was transplanted in mid-January 2014.  Harvest and evaluation are expected in late winter/early spring 2014.  With the addition of the Immokalee and Hastings sites, the Eastern Broccoli project now has trials running in at least one eastern location during every season of the year.

Hastings trial
Hastings, FL broccoli trial in progress in mid-January, 2014. Photo: Dana Fourman.