13 November 1998

Hybrid variety offers a break for broccoli

PURPLE sprouting broccoli looks set to become much more widely grown using new hybrid varieties which do not need cold temperatures to trigger flowering.

The development will allow the crop to be sown sooner to extend the harvest period from a few weeks to several months.

"This is an important breakthrough, as it opens the door for additional supermarket sales," says Tony Hewitt of Spalding based Elsoms Seeds. "There is considerable pent-up consumer demand for purple sprouting broccoli, as it is an attractive and tasty product, which adds colour to the dinner plate at a dull time of the year."

Traditionally purple broccoli is only available from January to March. But Elsoms has produced hybrids which do not have a vernalisation need, so can be sown early for harvesting from early autumn onwards. Sequential sowing could allow harvesting from early September until April. &#42

CAULIFLOWERCROSSES

A new range of pure autumn cauliflower hybrids from Bejo breeders in Holland was on show at Elsoms autumn vegetable open day. Unlike previous autumn cauliflowers which are crosses between summer and winter types, the new range of conventionally produced hybrids is based on dedicated autumn types. The first pair, coded BJ 1703 and 1704, are erect with strong foliage and produce attractive heads with pure white, deep and solid curds.

BJ 1704 matures 105 days after planting for an October harvest and its stablemate 10 days earlier.