ARS Broccoli Research

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 08:31:39 -0500
From: ARS News Service <isjd@sun.ars-grin.gov>
To: 'ARS News List' <ars-news@sun.ars-grin.gov>

New Way to Grow Broccoli Cuts Chemicals, Saves Water and Protects Soil

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Doris Stanley, phone (301) 893-6727, dstanley@asrr.arsusda.gov
March 27, 1997

Whether stir-fried, creamed, steamed, raw, or in casseroles or soup, 
Americans are eating more broccoli, and scientists with USDA's Agricultural 
Research Service have developed a better way to grow it.

By growing broccoli in a soybean mulch, they're using less chemicals, 
conserving water and eliminating soil erosion. This no-till system allows 
farmers to grow broccoli on the highly erodible soils of the mid-Atlantic 
states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North 
Carolina, where the terrain is often sloped.

Working with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 
Blacksburg, Va., ARS scientists plant a forage soybean variety that's high 
in nitrogen and grows to about 6 feet. They then cut the plants or roll 
them over to form a mulch to cover the soil. The thick thatch suppresses 
weeds, retains moisture, and protects and enriches the soil with organic 
matter. Broccoli requires soils rich in organic matter and high rates of 

Results indicate that the new method produces yields comparable to those 
from conventional planting in bare soil. In California, where about 88 
percent of U.S. broccoli is now grown, the crop is seeded in bare soil, 
followed by thinning and cultivation. Because weeds cause the greatest crop 
losses, cultivation and herbicide applications are standard and costly 
practices. Growers routinely apply chemical fertilizers two or three times 
during the growing season.

Per capita consumption of broccoli in this country reached 6 pounds last 
year, compared to only l.5 pounds in 1970. U.S. growers met this increased 
demand by producing 1.3 million pounds last year--four times the 325,000 
pounds grown in 1970. Broccoli is high in vitamins and dietary fiber. 
Another plus: Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, a compound associated with 
reduced risk of breast cancer.

The March 1997 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, the monthly 
publication of the Agricultural Research Service, gives more details about 
the new no-till way to grow broccoli. The magazine can also be viewed on 
the World Wide Web at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR.

Scientific contact: Aref Abdul-Baki, USDA-ARS Vegetable Laboratory, 
Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-5057, fax 301-504-5555, e-mail 
This item is one of the news and feature releases and story leads that ARS 
Information distributes on weekdays to journalists on request by fax as 
well as by an Internet mailing list.
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