Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released a report today that details variety trial results for purple sprouting broccoli grown in Oregon and Washington. Purple sprouting broccoli is an ideal crop for winter food production in the Pacific Northwest, and is gaining popularity as a produce item distinct from traditional broccoli. The project is a collaboration with Oregon State University, Washington State University, and Organically Grown Company.
Purple sprouting broccoli is planted in the summer and then overwinters, providing a harvest in the late winter and early spring, typically February or March, at a time when little diversity in fresh produce is available in the region and storage crops are waning.
This is the first multi-state variety trial to focus on how different varieties perform in organic production systems. Currently the lack of organic seed options and data on how different varieties perform is a barrier to expanding the availability and production of this nutritious crop. This project aims to fill these gaps, while encouraging growers to extend their growing season and add economic value to their farm.
Seed for purple sprouting broccoli is limited in availability. The report includes data from nine varieties currently sold by seed companies as well as two of OSA’s working (unfinished) varieties.
OSA and Organically Grown Company have been breeding a new organic variety for the last five years and are committed to releasing commercial varieties soon.
In addition to field evaluations, overall appearance and flavor were evaluated at tasting events this past March in Portland, Oregon, and Port Townsend, Washington. Farmers, chefs, and produce retailers provided valuable feedback on the appearance and flavor of the different varieties, rating their preferences and providing input on which traits to prioritize in plant breeding projects moving forward.
These stakeholders reported a need for varieties that are cold hardy and have long stems and large buds, and are tender in texture and mild in flavor. They also emphasized the vibrant purple color as an important trait.
This project is supported by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.