Enhancing the Scope of Vegetable Cultivar Evaluation in Florida

in HortTechnology

Vegetable cultivar evaluations are conducted seasonally by research and extension faculty at several locations throughout the state of Florida. Results are summarized and published in a Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Circular, Vegetable Variety Evaluation in Florida and used as a basis for extension recommendations published in Vegetable Production Guide for Florida, an industry-sponsored publication. The selection of vegetables to be evaluated depends on local needs and the evaluator's interest. Until recently, this has provided fairly good coverage of the principle vegetables grown in the state. However, the future of this program as currently structured may be in doubt because of changes in assignments of current faculty, new faculty with assignments and interests that differ from their predecessors, and reduced administrative recognition for cultivar evaluation. It is likely that county extension faculty and professional staff will have a greater role in cultivar evaluation as university faculty input is reduced. Increasing the scope of vegetable cultivar evaluation by university faculty to include adaptation of new crops and specialty vegetables adds a new dimension to traditional trials. Some of these vegetables have not benefitted from selection or breeding so there is opportunity for crop improvement as a further extension of vegetable cultivar evaluation.

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