By Yvette Henson, San Miguel Basin CSU Extension
Since 2011, San Miguel Basin CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardeners have grown different crops under different covers in our High Altitude Season Extension (HASE) research trials. We want to know which covers, if any, extend the season and improve yield and quality for whatever crop we are growing that year. Another goal of the HASE research beds is to find varieties that perform well in our short and cool summer growing season.
In 2016, we grew 3 varieties of broccoli under 3 different season extension covers and a ‘control’ (no cover). We chose varieties that would continue to produce side shoots after the main head had been harvested. Out of the 3 varieties we chose, ‘Solstice’, ‘Umpqua’ and ‘Nutribud’, ‘Nutribud was our favorite because it had the best yield, flavor and nutrition.
This year, I
grew broccoli in my home garden. When I was
planning my garden, I didn’t know if I still had seeds for ‘Nutribud’, so just
in case, I bought some seeds at the garden center of the variety ‘Belstar’, an
F1 hybrid. (For this blog what matters is to know that seeds from hybrids usually don’t produce plants that are ‘true to type’) The seed packet said that ‘Belstar’ would
continue to produce side shoots after the main head was harvested. That is what I wanted- I care more about getting an extended harvest through the season than a single harvest of large heads. After all, I cut them up to prepare them to
eat, don’t you? And since broccoli is a relatively big plant, I
wanted to get as much food out of the space they take up as possible.
Yield of Broccoli
2016 HASE Broccoli Trials
‘Nutribud’ broccoli is an open pollinated variety. (If you save seeds from an open pollinated variety grown correctly, the next generation of plants from those seeds will come ‘true to type’.) Dr. Alan Kapuler de-hybridized a hybrid variety called ‘Pacman’ and named it ‘Nutribud’ because in a UC Davis test on nutrition in different broccoli varieties, 'Nutribud' came out highest in free glutamine, a building block of protein: good for the brain and healing for the body!
|'Nutribud' broccoli head, 2016 HASE Trials, early August 2016.|
|First 3 heads of 'Belstar' broccoli|
and the second side shoots of 'Nutribud' broccoli, etc.
August 15, 2022.
I didn’t do
a thorough job weighing each harvest, especially at the beginning, so I don’t have data to show which variety actually produced the most edible broccoli, but
it was close. I could harvest many 'Nutribud' side shoots weekly but it took several weeks for the 'Belstar' side-shoots to grow to their larger size.
'Belstar' side shoot (left) & 'Nutribud' side shoots (right)
September 13, 2022