Northern New York Agricultural Development Program Awarded Grant for Early Spring Cabbage and Broccoli Crops
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
WILLSBORO, NY - As efforts to make vegetable programs year-round continue, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program awarded a grant for trials of early spring high tunnel miniature cabbages and sprouting broccoli crops. These brassica (cruciferous) crops are cold-tolerant and have the potential to fill the gap that occurs between when winter storage crops are sold out and before spring field crop harvest begins in New York State's northern region.
"In 2020, wholesale buyers sought out more sprouting broccoli than the market could supply through the northern New York food hubs," said Elisabeth Hodgdon, Ph.D., a Regional Vegetable Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension's Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. Hodgdon will continue to oversee the trials of fall-overwintered and early spring-planted, high tunnel-grown varieties of sprouting broccoli and mini-cabbages for harvest in April and May.
The program is also working with the Willsboro Research Farm, and together they harvested the first mini versions of these vegetables in May 2021. According to a press release, the opportunity to produce miniature varieties of broccoli and cabbages that are quick-growing and able to grow in unheated high tunnels will help northern New York growers respond to the unprecedented surge in demand for local foods.
The research will collect data on planting dates, crop establishment, growth patterns, and yield. An additional aspect of this Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded regional vegetable production research project is focused on how to plant cold-tolerant brassica species as field cover crops to enhance soil health and to help suppress pests, weeds, and crop diseases. The researchers will examine different varieties and planting date effects on forage radish and mustard biomass production before killing frosts arrive in northern New York State.
Another key member of the team, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agricultural Business Specialist Lindsey Pashow, is working with regional growers on ways to package, price, and prepare these vegetable crops for wholesale and retail markets. Both Pashow and Hodgdon are helping growers to develop food safety plans and implement practices to meet Food Safety Modernization Act and Good Agricultural Practices requirements.
As the market demand year-round offerings, we here at AndNowUKnow will continue to keep you up to date on how suppliers are rising to that challenge.