> Newly Developed Fast Growing Broccoli Could Double Crop Production - The Food Safety Company Newly Developed Fast Growing Broccoli Could Double Crop Production - The Food Safety Company
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    Tuesday, 28 February 2017

    Newly Developed Fast Growing Broccoli Could Double Crop Production

    In the wake of the vegetable shortage that forced UK supermarkets to impose limits on the number of certain items that could be purchased by customers, a team of British scientists has made a breakthrough that could help to ensure that such problems become a thing of the past.

    Working out of the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, the team have developed a new form of growth-accelerated broccoli that they claim goes from seed to harvest in as little as 8-10 weeks; a substantial reduction on the 14-21 week growth time stated by Harvest to Table. The researchers say that this could allow for two full crops per season in the field, thereby doubling annual production. In protected conditions, the crop could be planted all year round.

    Judith Irwin of the JIC sits alongside the new broccoli   - Img: Press & Journal
    Speaking of the new development, JIC head of business development, Jonathan Clarke, said, “The continuity of food production is being challenged by changes in our climate. Here at the John Innes Centre we have been challenging the way people think about how we produce food.

    “As part of this approach we are considering the potential of moving some forms of food production into contained horticultural production systems – these could range from simple glasshouse or growth rooms to more complex vertical farms.

    “This new line of broccoli could be grown in such systems and would overcome the problem of seasonality and our dependence on imported crops.”

    The breakthrough was made possible by drawing on existing research into vernalisation, defined by the Encyclopedia of Life Sciences as ‘the promotion of flowering in response to a prolonged period of growth at low temperatures’. By manipulating this behaviour and removing the cold requirement from the equation, the crop can be brought to harvest in less time. Judith Irwin of the JIC explains:

    “We harnessed our knowledge of how plants regulate the flowering process to remove the requirement for a period of cold temperature and bring this new broccoli line to harvest faster. This means growers could turn around two field-based crops in one season, or if the broccoli is grown in protected conditions, four-five crops in a year.”

    The newly developed broccoli will still have to go through some rigorous flavour and nutritional testing before it becomes available in our shops, but early progress certainly looks promising.

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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