Both Quality and Yield trials are conducted in South Carolina. Temperatures warm rapidly in the spring, and summers are consistently hot. This region is one of the few in the eastern US with the potential to harvest broccoli in May, but early warm spells make production in that season a somewhat risky endeavor. Better adapted, heat-tolerant broccoli hybrids will make the spring harvest window a more attractive one for growers and allow an earlier start for fall crops.
Growers in this state frequently produce broccoli as a rotation crop on plastic mulch. Inland SC has some large production acreage, while smaller operations on the Coast have grown broccoli intermittently for decades.
Brian Ward oversees Quality trials at the Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center (CCREC) in Charleston, SC. Trials are transplanted in early and mid-March for evaluations that run from early to late May and from mid-May to early June. A third planting in early to mid-September is evaluated in November.
The soil at Charleston is a sandy loam. Ward employs raised beds covered in black plastic to manage soil moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain bed structure. Broccoli is planted in double rows on beds with 6-foot spacing between bed centers. The two Spring 2017 plantings used a 15-inch between row and 6-inch within-row spacing; the Fall 2017 planting (photo below) used 14-inch between-row spacing and 8-inch within-row spacing. The location is adjacent to land previously used by Mark Farnham at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory for Phase I and II trials (the 2011 to 2015 precursors of Quality trials).
With Powell Smith of Clemson Cooperative Extension in Lexington County, Ward also conducts South Carolina Yield trials for the Eastern Broccoli Project. Yield trials to date have happened on the farms of larger growers in central South Carolina; however, a coastal site will be added in 2018. Recent yield trials have been transplanted as a second or third crop onto plastic-mulched beds. The 2017 SC Yield trial was planted in early September; evaluation and harvest began at the end of October and finished by mid-November.