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Broccolini variety trial results

This summer, Lizbeth Salamanca, a visiting student from Oregon State University, trialed four different broccolini varieties on the Student Organic Farm (SOF) on the Saint Paul of the University of Minnesota. Broccolini is a cross of broccoli and gai lan choy, made by the Sakata Seed Company, and released in the early 1990s. We’re examining broccolini as an alternative to broccoli, which can only be harvested 1-3 times a season, and is susceptible to pests such as black rot and swede midge, a new insect pest of brassicas.

The four broccolini varieties tested in Lizbeth’s trial were:

  • BC1611
  • Happy Rich
  • Melody
  • Sweet Stem
All seeds were sourced from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Lizbeth collected data on overall yield, earliness, bolting, and pest problems. All varieties were transplanted into slightly raised beds with drip tape and white plastic mulch on May 17, 2022. Lizbeth also calculated an enterprise budget to determine how much the SOF needed to charge buyers in order to make a profit.

Photo: Lizbeth Salamanca
Photo: Lizbeth Salamanca

Broccolini stalks were harvested weekly from June 21-September 1, starting with Sweet Stem, which kept producing harvestable shoots until the end of the experiment. Melody plants also started yielding at the same time as Sweet Stem, but stopped by week 8. Happy Rich plants produced budding shoots in week 3 until the end of the experiment. Stems of BC1611 were not ready to harvest until week 6, but also kept producing until the end of the experiment in September. At the 8th harvest week, BC1611 had produced an average of 577 g of stems, while the other varieties produced an average of less than 220 g. Although stems bolted during the season, the chef buying the broccolini wanted flowering stalks, so bolting was not a problem for sales. 

The only pest problem the plants suffered was a mid-season infestation of flea beetles. The cost per pound to produce the yield that was obtained was $0.94 per acre, and the student organic farm was able to sell the broccolini to restaurants for $2.75 per pound. Lizbeth’s data showed that multiple varieties of broccolini can be transplanted at the same time for season-long harvest, and be a profitable crop for Minnesota farmers.

Author: Cindy Tong (advisor to Lizbeth)

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