Eastern Broccoli Production: Improving Nutrition for Consumers and Increasing Production Opportunities for Growers
Sams, C. E., D. A. Kopsell, Bjorkman, T., Farnham, M., Davis, J., Griffiths, P., Hutton, M., and Smith, W..  2012.  Proceedings of the Southeast Vegetable and Fruit Expo, 2012 Yearbook. Pg. 52.  (invited)

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) consumption has increased in the United States driven at least partially by recognition that it is highly nutritious and contains high concentrations of several nutritionally important compounds. A multi-disciplinary team of plant breeders, physiologists, production specialists, and economists has been established with funding from USDA SCRI to develop a substantial eastern broccoli industry in the next 5-10 years. Producing broccoli in the eastern United States will reduce shipping cost and contribute to a more regionally based food production system. Broccoli production has traditionally been more challenging in this region due to variability in climatic conditions. Eastern climates often result in greater plant stress and disease incidences, resulting in inconsistent yield and quality. Therefore, the major emphasis of this project is to develop cultivars better adapted to production in the eastern United States while improving consistency in yield and nutritional quality. Production sites for this project were ME, NY, VA, NC, and SC. Glucosinolates , carotenoids, calcium, zinc and other minerals present in broccoli are important in the human diet. One of our team goals is to increase the concentration of these and other important compounds in new cultivars. The data in this presentation represent an effort to determine the genetic, environmental and production factors that have the greatest influence on these nutrients among current broccoli varieties. Six varieties were grown at five locations and two different times (an optimal and a stressed season) at each location. Floret tissue was analyzed for a complete profile of nutrients and concentrations were significantly influenced by variety, location, season, and their interactions. The data from these first year evaluations will be used by team members to improve consistency of quality in future broccoli cultivars and productions systems.