Purple sprouting broccoli: Profitable new crop for US growers

Purple sprouting broccoli is a real eyecatcher on the produce shelves. The vegetable — only available in later winter and spring — has provided consumers with a burst of color for their salads and an exciting alternative to regular broccoli. It is also a valuable source of late winter and early spring income for some Pacific Northwest farmers, including Francisco Cabrera.

Cabrera grows 1 acre of purple sprouting broccoli on the 10 acres he farms at Viva Farms, the small-farm incubator west of Burlington. In two seasons of growing the crop, sales have been good, Cabrera said through an interpreter. So good he doubled the acreage this season.

Purple sprouting broccoli is sold in early spring at retail stores and restaurants in the Pacific Northwest . Cabrera said his other crops, including strawberries and many kinds of vegetables, are not ready for harvest until late spring and summer. "(Purple sprouting broccoli) gives us extra money in the winter to support us," he told goskagit.com.

Cabrera sells the product through a contract between Viva Farms and Organically Grown Company, a Portland-based wholesale distributor. He grows three varieties of purple sprouting broccoli, which were specifically developed for Pacific Northwest growers.

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