Broccoli, a new high-value vegetable for New York
CALS Impact Statement
Broccoli is a high-volume, high-value vegetable crop that would be well suited for New York if it had greater tolerance to summer heat. The opportunity is great, because New York has the land base, the grower expertise, and the processors who would buy the product. We are working toward identifying germplasm with heat tolerance and markers for efficient selection of heat tolerance in combination with other essential morphological characteristics. So far, we have developed a screening method that has improved commercial breeders' ability to do selection. They are now providing new material with improved heat tolerance that allows some late-summer production in New York.
Summer broccoli production in the U.S. is limited to coastal California, because existing varieties become malformed in the summer heat elsewhere. Breeding for heat-tolerance was slow because screening methods were unreliable. Broccoli would be a high-value crop for New York if only varieties that tolerated summer heat were available.
We developed a screening method that allowed precise targeting of the heat-sensitive developmental stage, thereby reducing the preponderance of false negatives. The method was taught to commercial broccoli breeders. We are examining germplasm that those breeders have improved for heat tolerance.
Varieties with improved heat tolerance are now entering the market from several suppliers. We are working with growers to exploit these varieties to expand New York broccoli production.