Feasibility of Broccoli as a New Enterprise—A Systems Approach

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Eastern Shore Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Painter, VA 23420
  • 2 Division of Markets, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Onley, VA 23418
  • 3 Department of Agriculture Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg VA 24061

An interdisciplinary systems approach was used to explore the potential of fall, fresh-market broccoli as a new enterprise for eastern Virginia. Thirteen cultivars were evaluated in three plantings. Crop value was estimated at each harvest based on weekly market prices. The market window was open from mid-October until late November, with production of 160 cartons/ha, each at 11 kg. However, production of 120 cartons/ha narrowed the window to 2 weeks. Yield of some cultivars exceeded 160 cartons/ha in the first planting; yield of others was below the target production in the second planting. Low yield and low prices during most of the harvest period for the second planting suggests that the optimum harvest season ends in mid- to late November. Problems with poor plant establishment must be addressed before growers can fully capitalize on potential of broccoli as a new enterprise.

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