The Eastern Broccoli Project at Cornell University NY has developed a broccoli that grows well in warm, humid climates, especially where overnight temperatures stay above 18 degrees C (65F).
Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that’s best eaten fresh as it quickly becomes limp and bitter when stored at too high a temperature. But many consumers have to buy broccoli that’s well past its best because it will not grow or flower well in warm humid climates, such as along the east coast of the USA. Broccoli copes well with hot days but in warm climates, where the temperatures also stays high overnight, the flower buds become heat damaged.
A team led by Thomas Bjorkman at Cornell University in NY has developed new broccoli hybrids that flower at these higher temperatures and are so tender and sweet, they’re delicious to eat raw. Eating broccoli as soon as possible after picking is important as its sugars breakdown within 12 hours of picking if it’s not stored at just above freezing, making it bitter and unpalatable.
The project has partnered with Monsanto to develop the seed into commercial quantities but it will also be available through other seed companies. The new hybrids are not genetically modified. Farmers along the USA eastern seabord have begun growing the new broccoli.