539 PB 049 SINGLE-UNIT BROCCOLI AS AN ALTERNATIVE CASH CROP

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327

Consumer attitudes and preferences towards fresh market broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Group Italica) are changing. Consumers desire large-head broccoli with more florets per unit weight, which we term single unit broccoli. Single unit broccoli could be field established by transplanting, alleviating the problems of poor stand establishment encountered with direct-seeded broccoli in the Southeast. The objectives of this research were to determine the feasibility of producing single unit broccoli and the optimal plant arrangement and spacing to maximize the yield of single unit broccoli. Two spatial arrangements (single vs. twin row) and five plant densities (10.8, 7.2, 5.4, 4.3 and 3.6 plants/m2) were examined in 1990 and 1991 for production of single unit broccoli. Spatial arrangement had no significant effect on any measured variable, although the twin row arrangement resulted in less plant damage with each multiple harvest. For exclusive production of high quality, single unit broccoli with high yields of marketable florets, a planting density of 3.6 plants/m2 (46 cm within row spacing) should be used in a twin row arrangement.

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