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At Seminis®, we’re always focusing on innovation to increase yield potential and improve quality for our growers, but another factor we focus on in our varieties is solving challenges that our growers are facing.
“Labor availability and the cost of labor has been, and continues to be, a challenge for growers in the west. Broccoli is one particular crop that growers have to focus a lot of labor resources on. We’ve been working toward an innovative solution for many years, and are now in the final stages of launching a new broccoli variety that will help growers with this challenge,” shared Gene Mero, broccoli breeder for Seminis.
Typically, broccoli must be harvested two to three times each season. The first harvest may bring in 20-30% of the field, the second harvest 50-60%, then if the grower is able to afford it, they’ll do a final clean-up harvest. Each harvest is an additional, significant cost to the grower. Ultimately, our goal is to reduce the number of harvests required by the growers to save them time and resources, while still keeping the high yield potential.
To do this we’ve focused on not only making the broccoli more uniform, but also raising the head to make the crown more visible. This creates efficiencies for the grower during harvest because there are less leaves around the head that have to be pruned. With a more uniform crop, the broccoli matures at the same time, and is all able to be harvested at the same time. These traits generate the opportunity for a very efficient, single harvest, where the grower is able to take all the broccoli at one time, and harvest the same amount that they would have in their previous 2-3 harvests.
“While it is still years away, this is expected to ultimately lead to mechanical harvesting, and there is a lot of energy and excitement in the industry around it. For agriculture, there is a revolution going on in mechanization because of the labor challenges, which means a lot more technology will be used in the future,” expressed Drew Johnson, product manager for brassica and leafy at Seminis.
This new broccoli variety is currently in final large scale trials, and you can expect to see it available for purchase in the coming year. To see our current broccoli portfolio, visit our website.