Cornell scientists invent broccoli that thrives in steamy Central New York summers

Scientists at Cornell University, working with Geneva, N.Y.-based seed company Bejo, have developed a new broccoli variety that thrives in hot, steamy East Coast summers. Bejo is distributing seeds for Experimental 3324—the new broccoli variety that doesn’t yet have a name—on a trial basis to CNY growers. If enough consumers binge on the new broccoli, Bejo will give it a name and add it to their catalog.

California grows 90 percent of the broccoli consumed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hot days, cool nights, and rich soil there make for ideal growing conditions. The vegetable doesn’t grow so well in hot, steamy East Coast summers, however. “We did all this testing up and down the east coast,” Björkman said, “and it’s better than what’s on the market currently.”

Climate change was a driving factor behind Björkman’s idea to establish the Eastern Broccoli Project 13 years ago. Rising temperatures and water shortages in California and elsewhere threatens food security and underscores the need to diversify where our food is grown, he said.

“The adaptation to our region didn’t exist in broccoli at all anywhere in the world,” Björkman said. “So we had to push it a little bit further beyond its previous boundary, and it worked.”

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