Page 12 - The Valley Table - Fall 2021
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                                   GOOD STUFF
     California has always been the king of broccoli — dominating production sales for decades. But that’s about to change. In New York, agriculturalists are combining innovative plant science and savvy marketing in a bid to win a bigger share of nearly $1 billion in nationwide sales.
Former President George H.W. Bush famously banned broccoli from Air Force One, but these days the veggie is more popular than ever. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capita consumption increased to 5.9 pounds in 2019 (versus 0.5 pounds in the ‘70s) and enjoys superfood status thanks to its disease-fighting vitamins
and antioxidants.
Although cultivation still falls far behind sweet corn,
onions, salad greens, and other crops in the state and the region, Hudson Valley farmers are increasingly growing broccoli and selling it to mid-sized wholesalers, regional farm stands and markets, CSA shares, schools, and other
institutions. As of 2017, 113 farms in Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Columbia counties were growing broccoli, up from 38 in 2012. Yet despite the uptick, New York broccoli farmers can’t compete with California’s ideal growing conditions. “The vegetable growing regions of California are blessed with steady, temperate weather that’s perfect for growing many vegetables for much of the year, especially broccoli,” explains Jeff Arnold, vegetable production manager for the Hudson Valley Farm Hub (HVFH)
in Hurley.
At locations like HVFH, which devotes about six of its
30 acres to organic broccoli, there’s a very brief window for optimal growing. “Broccoli needs warm days, but not too warm, and cool nights, but not too cool, to develop properly,” says Arnold. “Small deviations from its preferred temperature range will result in deformed, unmarketable heads. In the Northeast, our short, temperamental springs
10 the valley table sept – nov 2021
photo courtesy of hudson valley farm hub

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