Year of the Broccoli
The National Garden Bureau (NGB) has named 2023 the Year of the Broccoli. The “Year of the” program chooses crops specifically for the North American market that are easy to grow, genetically diverse and with a lot of new breeding to showcase.
Did you know that the optimal storage life of freshly harvested broccoli is 21 to 28 days? How about that over the last 25 years broccoli consumption in North America has increased 940%? Or that broccoli has more protein than most other green vegetables?
NGB has provided a fact sheet along with flyers, handouts, signage, posters and more for free at www.ngb.org/year-of-the-broccoli to help garden centers and growers highlight these plants throughout the year.
All-America Selections continues to evolve after celebrating 90 years of plant trialing last year. Along with a robust testing program for flowers, the independent non-profit organization recognizes vegetables that perform well on a national or regional scale.
Diane Blazek, executive director of All-America Selections (AAS), shared some of the primary attributes that breeders are working toward when it comes to new vegetable introductions. Higher yields and improved nutritional value take precedence along with disease and pest resistance — meaning lower inputs — and an extended growing season.
Technology advancements are also driving the fruit and vegetable industries. Robotic harvesting has come a long way in combining advanced vision with horticultural knowledge. Favorable breeding for such automation may include horizontally grown tomatoes, peppers with durable yet harvestable stems and similar characteristics.
Blazek also says that fruiting ability under artificial lights is an increasing goal as controlled environment agriculture grows beyond leafy greens.
The following varieties are the newest AAS National Winners, earning recognition for their superior performance throughout all of North America.
Jalapeño Pepper ‘San Joaquin F1’
Bejo Seeds Inc.
‘San Joaquin’ is a determinate jalapeño that sets most of its fruit in a short window, so there are approximately 50 fruits per plant ready at the same time. The fruits have just a hint of heat at 2,500 to 6,000 Scoville units and are large for a jalapeño. Leave them on the plant longer for a beautiful red, and still delicious, jalapeño.
Squash ‘Sweet Jade F1’
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
This sea-green kabocha squash proved itself in the AAS trials with its high yields and good holding capability. Each fruit is between 1 and 2 pounds and can be used for single servings of squash, as an edible soup bowl, or in any number of dishes. ‘Sweet Jade’s’ deep orange flesh is dry yet sweet and very flavorful whether roasted, baked, or pureed.
Eggplant ‘Icicle F1’
This cylindrical white eggplant has fewer spines than most eggplants, making for a less painful harvest. With larger fruits than other white eggplants, it produces a nice yield while also providing fewer seeds. The large, durable, and vigorous plants hold up to insect damage and the environment, and the white skin does not tend to yellow.
Vitalis Organic Seed
This emerald-green oakleaf mini head is named for organic farmer and seedsman John Bauer. It has a compact habit with excellent fill, offering harvest flexibility at multiple sizes. Leaves are thick, crunchy and sweet. ‘Bauer’ has been selected under organic conditions and is widely adaptable, with a high level of downy mildew resistance.
Pepper ‘Buffy F1’
‘Buffy’ produces a good yield of juicy, thick-walled green to red fruits on strong, healthy upright plants. Its fruits are more attractive than the comparisons as well as slightly larger, making them perfect for flavorful sport peppers but also for use in other applications. The peppers are held high on the plant, adding ornamental value to the garden.
Pepper ‘Dragonfly F1’
Bejo Seeds Inc.
‘Dragonfly’ pepper plants produce purple peppers that have thick, sweet walls. This pepper transforms itself from a green pepper into a purple fruit that is delicious at both stages of maturity. Fruits are held high on the plant, keeping them from the soil. The four-lobed fruits do not fade and, if left on the vine, turn a beautiful bright red.
Pepper ‘Quickfire F1’
Tozer Seeds Inc.
‘Quickfire’ peppers produce plenty of hot delicious fruits on a compact, sturdy plant that is perfect for container gardening. No staking is required. This pepper has tremendous ornamental value but was bred for its taste and yield. Chiles are ready in as quickly as 50 days from sowing, and plants continue to crop for at least three months, if picked regularly.
Tomato ‘Purple Zebra F1’
‘Purple Zebra’ tomato is a new addition to striped tomatoes, producing tomatoes that are rich with complex flavors and a moderately firm texture. Dark red fruits with green stripes and a deep mahogany red interior do not produce muddy coloration like other tomatoes of this type. The taste is sweet and acidic, leaning to sweet, and it has high disease resistance.
Squash ‘Goldilocks F1’
In summer trials across North America, AAS judges noted the vigorous plant has high yield, disease tolerance and rich, nutty flavor. It sets small yellow flowers followed by uniform 4-inch-by-4-inch round to oval bright orange fruits, weighing approximately 1 pound each. The bright orange fruits with uniform shape and color double as an ornamental decoration.
Cucumber ‘Green Light F1’
This mini cucumber had a higher yield than comparison varieties in trials with more attractive fruit, earlier maturity and superior eating quality. Grow ‘Green Light’ cucumbers on stakes or poles for a productive, easy-to-harvest vertical garden or on the ground. This plant will yield 40 or more spineless fruits per plant when picked between 3 and 4 inches long.
Pea ‘Snak Hero’
Slender 4-inch-long pods have the straight and elongated appearance of a succulent green bean but the taste and texture of a snap pea. ‘Snak Hero’ is super sweet with stringless, edible pods perfect for snacking, stir-frying or freezing for later. Vines of 18 to 24 inches can be grown with or without support and are perfect for patio containers or hanging baskets.
Pumpkin ‘Blue Prince F1’
Seeds By Design Inc.
‘Blue Prince’ scored high in yield, fruit size, uniformity, color, taste and texture. Vigorous trailing vines produce 7-to-9-pound blue flattened pumpkins with non-stringy, deep orange flesh with savory sweetness. Of all the varieties trialed, it was first to mature, great for gardeners with a shorter growing season. Plus, this winner has better disease resistance than the comparisons.
Tomato ‘Apple Yellow F1’
Gana Seed Co. Ltd.
This uniquely dimpled, apple-shaped fruit has a deliciously sweet citrusy taste and firm, meaty texture. Indeterminate 5-foot-tall vines produce abundantly in clusters, resulting in up to 1,000 fruits per plant. The fruits are an eye-catching, bright, lemon-yellow color. Judges were excited that a non-splitting, long-holding, uniformly shaped tomato had such good eating quality.
Tomato ‘Early Resilience F1’
‘Early Resilience’ is a rounded Roma tomato with a deep red interior color, uniform maturity, and good quality flesh for canning and cooking. Determinate,bushy plants can be staked, but it is not necessary. The AAS judges noted that this variety is very disease resistant, including resistance to blossom end rot, resulting in a high yield and less fruit loss.
Tomato ‘Celano F1’
‘Celano’ is a patio-type grape tomato with a strong bushy habit. It is best grown with some support, such as a tomato cage. This semi-determinate hybrid tomato is an early producer of sweet oblong fruits weighing about 0.6 ounces each. Plants grow to 40 inches in height, spread to 24 inches and have excellent late blight tolerance.
Watermelon ‘Mambo F1’
The sweet crisp flesh of ‘Mambo’ is tasty and holds well (doesn’t overripen) if you can’t harvest them right away. Each 9-inch fruit will weigh about 11 pounds at maturity, which is 75 days from transplant. A smaller seed cavity means you almost get the look of a seedless melon but the superior taste of a seeded melon.