Editor's note: A special thanks to Dr. Monica Ozores-Hampton for coordinating The Immokalee Report.
Most U.S. broccoli production occurs in the western United States. However, rising fuel and transportation costs may make it difficult for distribution to eastern markets to remain economically viable.
This situation provides an opportunity for Florida growers, who have a transportation advantage in the East.
The estimated area devoted to broccoli production in Florida is less than 2,000 acres, which is located primarily in northeast and central-south Florida.
Broccoli production in northeast and central Florida occurs from August to March, while in south Florida from September to January.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the yield and quality of broccoli varieties in two production regions in Florida.
Seven broccoli varieties were tested in Felda (southwest) and Hastings (northeast): BZ 1001 and 1004 (Enza Zaden); Emerald Crown, Green Gold, Green Magic, Imperial (Sakata); and Ironman (Seminis).
Both trials were planted in November 2011 with 6-inch spacing between plants in a single row 3 feet apart. Total plant population was 29,040 plants per acre.
Broccoli heads were harvested manually and weighed for marketable and unmarketable yield. Postharvest evaluation consisted of head diameter, color, density and stalk internal cavity.
And the winner is ...
Hastings produced higher yields than Felda due to higher head diameter (6-7 inches per head or “crown”) with an average yield of 10.7 tons per acre and head weight of 1.12 pounds. There were no differences in marketable yield and head weight among varieties.
In Felda, the highest marketable yields were from BZ 1001, Emerald Crown, Green Gold and Green Magic. However, head diameters were between 4-4.5 inches (“bunch”) with yields ranging from 3-6.3 tons per acre.
The varieties with the highest color rating and head density were Imperial, BZ 1001, Emerald Crown and Green Magic.
Therefore, Emerald Crown and Green Magic can be recommended due to the high yield and dark-green color.
Based on these results, Florida has the potential to produce high broccoli yields and quality during the winter season.
Monica Ozores-Hampton is an assistant horticulture professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, Fla. Lincoln Zotarelli is an assistant professor with the UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department, Gainesville. Gene McAvoy is county director with the UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension Service, LaBelle, and a regional vegetable specialist.