Scientists at the John Innes Centre in UK have found a way to get broccoli to grow more quickly without having to undergo a period of cold before flowering. They call is “seasonless broccoli” and hope to extend the biotech discovery to other flowering vegetables like cauliflower.
The discovery potentially doubles the yield that farmers can grow in a season. That is, they can get two full crops harvested in a single season instead of one. Also, if the broccoli is grown in protected conditions, they may be able to get up to 4 or 5 yields in a single year.
Flowering vegetables like broccoli normally require a period of cold weather before they will begin to flower and so are vulnerable to unreliable winter temperatures – this year of inordinately warm winter weather is an extreme example. According to an article in Science Magazine online, “Recent adverse weather in Murcia, Spain led to a shortage of courgettes, iceberg lettuce and broccoli.” The hope is that the new approach will help the world continue to grow enough food in spite of dramatic changes in weather patterns brought on by the rising temperature of Earth.
The British have traditionally been able to grow only 23% of the vegetables they need, and global warming is threatening even that. Good to know that science is focusing on practical solutions now. So much yet to be done.