Broccoli Seed

broccoli seedBy Kurt Nolte

• Among the vegetables related to broccoli are cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, collards, kale and kohlrabi. There are also some oilseed crops, such as canola. Nasturtiums, an ornamental, are also found in the Brassicaceaes. Many of the members of the family are found in the wild.

• There has been a lot of breeding work done in broccoli to improve the adaptability to growing areas, quality and disease resistance.

• All of the cole crops can be crossed and many of the flowers cannot be fertilized by their own pollen, so it is easy to develop hybrids. Many hybrids have been released for commercial cultivation and hybrid seed production is now the norm.

• In 2010, Yuma County was the home of about 650 acres of broccoli seed crops. Unlike broccoli grown for the fresh cut market, which can reach full maturity a little over three months, broccoli seed crops are managed for up to nine months.

• Each field grown for broccoli seed is isolated from an adjacent flowering brassica by a distance of two miles. Broccoli seed is grown from transplants planted in early fall, seed is harvested the following May.

• The fruit of broccoli is called a silique, each of which contains 10 to 30 seeds. It takes about 144,000 broccoli seed to make up a pound. A well-fruited broccoli plant may produce one-quarter pound of seed.

• After leafy growth ceases, the flowering stem elongates. It is characterized by numerous branches, mostly from a main stem, small leaves and numerous bright yellow or white flowers . The flowers have four petals that appear to form a cross.

• Broccoli flowers are highly attractive to pollinating insects for both nectar and pollen. When the seed-producing acreage is large, beekeepers frequently harvest a crop of excellent honey.

• In general, the honey bee is the primary pollinator of broccoli seed crops and they can be transported to the fields to be pollinated. Honey bees increase seed production by 300 percent over plants not freely visited, and this visitation also considerably enhances the seed quality.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904. For additional information please visit https://extension.arizona.edu/yuma.