Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Jeanine Davis and Research Assistant Margaret Bloomquist, both with NC State, conduct Eastern Broccoli trials in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Broccoli is a relatively new but promising commercial crop for the region’s growers, some of whom are transitioning from tobacco to broccoli and other vegetable crops. There is also significant organic production.
Small farms in this higher elevation region have the potential to produce broccoli in early to mid-summer, a difficult production window for eastern broccoli. The planting season here begins earlier in the spring than it does in the northeast, and summer temperatures, while still quite warm, do not usually reach the excessively hot levels seen in southern production areas.
Quality trials at NC State’s Waynesville Station provide data on the performance of new hybrids in higher altitude zones (above 500 m). Trials are planted on raised beds covered with white-on-black plastic mulch that holds moisture, suppresses weeds, and maintains bed structure while limiting the amount of heat that accumulates in the soil. Beds are arranged on 5 foot centers, with two rows spaced 1 foot apart per bed and 6 inch in-row spacing. Trials are transplanted in mid-May, mid-June and early to mid-July for July, August, and September evaluation and harvest.
The NC team conducts two Yield trials on the farms of local growers. Soil at both locations is a sandy loam. Both growers plant double rows on black plastic-covered raised beds, although the spacings differ on each farm. One trial was transplanted in late May for a July harvest, and the other was transplanted in mid-July for September harvest.
A gallery of pictures from the 2017 Yield trial follows. Click on the photos to see a full-sized image.