Cornell University, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, University of Florida & Virginia Tech Boosting Broccoli

Broccoli is a high-value crop worth nearly one billion dollars per year. Although there is growing consumption in the Eastern United States, very little broccoli has been produced there. About 85% of the broccoli consumed annually on the East Coast is shipped from California and Mexico.

The Eastern Broccoli Project began in 2010 with the ambitious goal of creating a brand-new, $100 million broccoli industry in the Eastern U.S. within 10 years. Currently, the industry is valued at around $90 million. With two remaining years of funding, scientists and their collaborators are on schedule to meet their goal and create a reliable, high-quality, year-round supply of Eastern-grown broccoli for East Coast markets.

Funded by USDA, Cornell University leads the team that includes researchers from North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee, University of Georgia, University of Florida, Virginia Tech and others. For example, the team identified and exploited chromosomal markers for a cross-breeding process that results in broccoli with a dark green color, which appears more “healthy to most people” and stands to boost sales. The hybrid broccoli is being worked on by project scientists, companies, and farmers to provide a steady supply of more uniform eastern variants to the commercial markets.

Several hybrids of broccoli have been commercialized recently, and more are nearing release by seed companies. Over the next two years, the project team will work with these companies and farmers to ensure a steady flow of seeds and broccoli through the pipeline on the way to creating a $100 million industry.  

Retaking The Field Volume 5 “Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit” explores how federally funded agricultural research strengthens farmers and ranchers’ bottomline by reducing costs and risks, increasing profits, and laying the groundwork for new products and industries. With powerful examples from universities across the country, it describes how research can generate outsized economic benefits that extends for decades. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit Click to download report

More Stories from the community

Helping Hearts: Discovering the Impacts of Flavonoids and Interpersonal Gut Variations to Improve Cardiovascular Health

The American Heart Association notes a recent study that showed millions of people worldwide could prevent early deaths and disability from heart disease by eating more fruits and vegetables. Some health benefits associated with this diet are derived from pigments present in plants called flavonoids. Dr. Federico Rey and his team studies how flavanoids can improve human health.

Read More
Highlighting Human Health

Investments in agricultural research provide a boost to improve human health. With the sequencing of the swine (pig) genome, there are new opportunities to research with models that are extremely close to the human genome. The pig genome is of similar size, complexity, and chromosomal organization as the human genome and can be useful for human health studies.

Read More