Some articles of recent interest:

USDA, Others Invest $5 Million to Grow Broccoli in the East – More coverage on this project, this an AP report on aolnews.com Feb. 21:

U.S. consumption of broccoli has nearly doubled in the past 25 years, with Americans now eating 8.5 pounds annually of the vegetable celebrated for its high levels of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Nearly all of that comes from California, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thomas Bjorkman“And they do an excellent job,” said Thomas Bjorkman, one of the lead researchers and associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University. “But with the demand for locally grown and rising transportation costs, that really creates an opportunity for Eastern production.”

“We’re not attempting to put California out of business. We just want a piece of the action,” said J. Powell Smith, a South Carolina extension agent who is lining up growers in his state. …

Miguel Gomez, an assistant professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, has been helping put together an East Coast network of farmers and retailers. Along with saving money, Gomez said creating second major production center for broccoli provides a hedge against threats such as drought, disease and bioterrorism.

“When you look at a food system that depends on a single area, that is extremely risky,” he said. “It’s good to diversify.”

It also saves money. Shipping 10 tons of broccoli from Salinas, Calif., for instance, runs about $6,000 and adds 20 cents to 25 cents per pound to the vegetable’s cost, Bjorkman said.

Read the whole article.

Two recent Cornell Chronicle articles featuring activities in our sister departments in CALS:

  • Students flock to ‘magical mushrooms’ course – More than 5,500 students have taken PPPMB chair George Hudler‘s Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds class.
  • Cornell releases two new potato varieties, ideal for chip – “Waneta and Lamoka — named after a pair of twin lakes in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York — are especially appealing to potato chip manufacturers because they fare well in storage and produce a nice color when cut. … Both varieties are resistant to the golden nematode, a pathogen present in some New York soil that attacks potato roots, and common scab, another soil-borne pathogen present nationwide that can cause pits in potatoes. … ‘New York growers will have a higher quality product to sell,’ said [Walter De Jong, associate professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics.]
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