Monday, May 10, 2010

East Coast Broccoli Production Coming: Visit with Us Tomorrow

Photo from University of Illinois Extension

Tomorrow, Tuesday May 11, 2010, Dr. Thomas Bjorkman, Cornell University and Dr. Mark Farnham, USDA, will be visiting the Mountain Research Station and the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station to start planning for our big broccoli project which will start in September (see notice below). We need to decide which research station we would like to do the variety testing on and would like to start talking to growers, extension agents, marketing specialists, regional agronomists, agricultural non-profits, and other interested parties. If you are curious about this project, interested in growing broccoli on a wholesale level, willing to help make this all a reality, or wanting to express an opinion about it, you are welcome to join us. You will have two opportunities to visit with us at Waynesville and Mills River. Those times are in bold in the agenda below:

Tuesday, May 11:

8:00 am- 8:30 am        Thomas and Mark will arrive at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center to meet Jeanine
8:30 am- 9:30 am        Drive to the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville
9:30 am-11:00 am       Tour the Mountain Research Station and visit with station personnel
11:00 am-12:00 pm     Be in the Mtn. Research Station office (Waynesville) to visit with extension agents, growers, etc. and discuss the project
12:00 pm- 1:30 pm      Return to Mills River, getting lunch along the way
1:30 pm- 3:00 pm        Tour the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River
3:00 pm- 5:00 pm        Be in the Research Conference Room at the Mtn. Horticultural Crops  Research & Extension Center (Mills River) to visit with extension agents, growers, etc.

Original notice sent on 4/30/10:
The official announcement isn't out yet, so don't go broadcasting this on newsletters or websites yet, but we just got word that a $3.1 million federal grant has been funded to develop an east coast broccoli industry. There are many universities, breeders, and private industry involved in this five year project. Cornell is the lead institution and I am overseeing the North Carolina component, which is focused in western NC. This is a big project!

I'm writing you because it is important for us to start getting farmers interested and involved in this project right away. Although the variety trials and information will be useful for everyone, we are looking for involvement of farmers who want to grow broccoli on a wholesale level. This fall I will "practice" growing some broccoli at the Waynesville research station. Next spring we will start growing very large variety trials on the station in Waynesville or Mills River. In 2012 we will start with on-farm trials.

On May 11, the project director from Cornell and one of the breeders from USDA are coming here to see our Waynesville and Mills River research stations. We welcome you and any other farmers who may be interested in growing broccoli to stop by when we are at those stations. I will send out an agenda as soon as we have one. Please spread the word. Information on that visit and the project will be posted regularly on my blog.

This is an opportunity I am very excited about. There is a HUGE demand for broccoli, but it doesn't come from the east coast. The research team has identified western NC as a critical region to help supply broccoli from the east coast in the effort to create an almost year round supply. You know we can grow great broccoli here. This is the just the kind of higher-value, wholesale crop that I think we need for WNC.

Please let me know if you are interested. Even if you can't make it out on May 11, we will keep you informed.

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