- Processors need broccoli with better quality traits than what is available in cultivars developed for California and Mexico fresh markets. Farmers need to reduce labor costs of broccoli production by mechanizing harvest. Most contemporary commercially available cultivars are not suitable for either mechanical harvest or processing. The objective of the OSU broccoli breeding program is to develop broccoli varieties adapted to western Oregon with suitable quality and high yields. The program operates on a one year cycle where cuttings from the field are taken into the greenhouse in the fall where they are rooted and hand crossed and self-pollinated to produce seed for the next generation. Seed is harvested in May and June and used to plant trials for fall evaluation.
In 2016, a major shift in program emphasis occurred. We did not conduct a replicated trial of experimental hybrids as we have in past years. The processing and sample display and evaluation of experimental hybrids was temporarily discontinued. We contracted with P & R Seeds to scale up hybrid seed production of one hybrid (O446/S454) for eventual field production in Oregon. Seed of the inbreds (S446, S454 and O446) was provided to P & R Seeds, who contracted with a grower in Chile to conduct increase of the inbreds in 2016, to be followed by hybrid seed production in 2017. This work is also complementary to an ODA Specialty Crop Block Grant that was obtained in 2016 to develop a robotic harvesting system for direct harvest of broccoli for processing.
In the field program at the OSU Vegetable Research Farm near Corvallis, We did grow a full set of inbred lines and acquired observational data. In addition, three isolation plots were established for testing various inbred combinations for hybrid seed production. An excellent increase of O446 x S454 hybrid was obtained.