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  • Author or Editor: Daniel L. Schellenberg x
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An open-market window has been identified in Virginia for fall broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica). Vegetable producers using plasticulture systems can capitalize on this opportunity by growing broccoli as a second crop after summer vegetables. The objective of this project was to evaluate suitability of two broccoli cultivars, Everest and Gypsy, for the fall production of large single-heads (>6 inches in diameter) for the fresh market. Planting density and rate of nitrogen (N) fertilizer (25, 60, and 100 lb/acre N) effects on yield characteristics were evaluated in a plasticulture system during a 3-year study (2003–05) conducted with broccoli transplants at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Kentland Agricultural Research Farm near Blacksburg, VA. The percentage of large heads was cultivar, plant density, and N rate dependent. The midseason ‘Gypsy’ produced significantly higher total yield and head weight compared with the early-season ‘Everest’. The optimum density to maximize floret production per area was 12,500 plants/acre and a supplemental N rate of 100 lb/acre. This N rate significantly (P < 0.002) improved marketable yield, large head yield, and leaf N accumulation compared with the lower rates. The data indicate that the feasibility of growing fall broccoli using a plasticulture system depends on the number of large heads produced for the fresh market. This in turn will depend on the choice of cultivar, stand establishment, and the requirement for supplemental N fertilizer over the residual level available in the soil after the first crop.

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