Tag Archives: brassicas

Wholesalers concerned about effects of hot weather

According to reports, some wholesalers have expressed concern about the recent spate of hot, dry weather on the availability of certain UK produce lines, including broccoli and some soft fruit.

Following temperatures of 31oC in Lincolnshire and 25oC in Cornwall, former Secretts Direct boss Vernon Mascarenhas of New Covent Garden’s First Choice Produce told the Fresh Produce Journal that “Broccoli will be hardest hit because generally you don’t irrigate broccoli. In this heat the broccoli plant will dehydrate and shut down.”

He added, “Strawberries are also going to be a problem. In this weather strawberry plants can just shut down and stop producing. “Everyone loves the hot weather but people should realise what it can do to our food chain,” he said. “There are going to be consequences.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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PGRO offers rapid clubroot test

PGRO is now offering commercial growers an early indication of clubroot risk to brassica crops including vegetables and oilseed rape.

“PGRO is offering a rapid molecular test for the detection and quantification of the brassica clubroot pathogen Plasmodiophora brassicae in the soil that can be used as a risk assessment tool by growers,” says Roger Vickers, PGRO’s Chief Executive. “The test is proving invaluable to close rotation intensive vegetable producers as well as to growers of oilseed rape – which is the most commonly grown brassica crop in the UK.

“Clubroot infection can cause significant, or even complete, crop losses when infection is severe, and is exacerbated by close rotations. Plasmodiophora brassicae can persist in soils for at least 15 years so cannot be managed practically by extending rotations.”

Dr Lea Herold, PGRO Plant Pathologist explains that the test, which was first launched last summer, determines the number of pathogen resting spores per gram of soil. “The higher the numbers of spores per gram soil the higher the risk of disease development,” she says. “Growers receive a risk indicator for their soil, with the level of risk defined on a 1-3 scale (slight, moderate or severe) according to infection levels identified as set out in AHDB Horticulture Project CP 099a.”

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Consumers annoyed by smaller brassicas

According to press reports, shoppers across the UK are annoyed by the smaller size of cauliflower and broccoli heads and have been complaining to retailers and taking to social media about the issue.

The reduction in head size and availability has been blamed on the cold weather experienced at the end of November which stopped crop growth just as plants were maturing.

One Asda customer claimed that they had brought a cauliflower which contained just a single floret. “I was laughing to myself. How can they allow it to go on the shelves if it’s that tiny?” Joanne Sutherland from Nottinghamshire told The Sun. Lynda Nicholson from Scotland, was also deceived by what she thought was a standard cauliflower from Morrisons. She said: “It did appear to be a medium-sized cauliflower until I took all the leaves off and it was pretty small, probably about four-five centimetres in circumference.”

Photo Credit: Occado

The post Consumers annoyed by smaller brassicas appeared first on Hort News on 21 December 2016.

Research casts light on cabbage differences

White cabbage and Chinese cabbage have a lot in common despite the fact that two crops originate from two different Brassica species used and domesticated by farmers on two different continents.

Together with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Wageningen UR scientists have explained how it is possible that these two Brassica varieties at two very different global locations developed into so many diverse, but often very similar crops.

While the domestication of a crop is a long and complex process, there are rare examples in history of something called convergent domestication, in which a similar type of crop develops in different places and at different times. According to Guusje Bonnema, plant breeding scientist at Wageningen UR and one of the authors of the article in Nature Genetics, the cabbage crops we have in Europe and Asia are a fine example of this process. “These two Brassica species were apparently both relatively easy to domesticate, sometimes into crops that are very alike, such as heading cabbages and turnips and kohlrabies. There are Brassica crops in both Europe and Asia which are cultivated for their floral organs, like cauliflower, broccoli, broccoletto and caixin,” she said.

“Because a cabbage contains three copies of a specific gene, one copy can develop a mutation which makes the leaves fold, for instance, while other copies retain their original function.”

This research is the first proof that genome triplication increases the opportunity for diversity and convergent domestication of the two Brassica varieties. “It provides a fascinating insight into how domestication works and creates opportunities for domesticating new crops,” says Bonnema. Moreover, by giving a greater insight into how the underlying genes work, breeders can cultivate the perfect cabbage cultivar.

Photo Caption: Guusje Bonnema, associate professor Wageningen University

Photo Credit: Wageningen UR

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Are broccoli leaves the next kale?

Supermarket Asda has promoted the consumption of broccoli leaves on its blog, prompting some industry commentators to suggest that they could become the next ‘on trend’ green vegetable.

Writing for Asda Good Living, Alexia Dellner said, ‘Broccoli leaves are large (similar to chard), taste slightly sweet and are highly versatile. Usually left in the field and ploughed back into the land, American chefs and health bloggers have already clocked on to how delicious the leaves are and how easy they are to eat! Broccoli leaves can be boiled, steamed or sautéed – similar to how you would use kale. For an easy side dish, simply fry leaves in a little olive oil with garlic and you’re ready to go.’

Charlie Mills, Asda’s fresh produce manager told The Grocer, “We’re committed to tackling food waste at Asda and are constantly looking at our produce across the board to see where else we can make a difference. When we discovered the delicious taste of the broccoli leaf, coupled with its outstanding health benefits, we knew it was a clear winner to hit shelves.”

Photo Caption: Broccoli leaves could be the next green vegetable to hit supermarket shelves.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Bejo hosts the world of brassicas at Brassica Symposium 2015

On Thursday 24th September Bejo hosted more than 220 growers, suppliers and industry experts at its headquarters at Warmenhuizen in The Netherlands for its Brassica Symposium 2015.

The day, which was held to coincide with Bejo’s popular Open Field Demo Days, gave delegates from around the world the chance to hear the latest developments in brassica science, marketing and breeding from leading experts, as well as seeing for themselves the novel product concepts that Bejo is developing in the sector.

In his keynote presentation Professor João Carlos da Silva Dias, chairman of the ISHS Brassica Committee, gave an overview of the development and evolution of the wide range of brassica vegetables we now enjoy, from the earliest wild kale type plants to modern sprouting broccoli and coloured cauliflowers.

Focus on science

The morning focused on science, in particular the role of glucosinolates, a key benefit of many brassica crops. These important compounds were discussed by Dr Nicole van Dam of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity, and Dr Kirsten Brandt of Newcastle University, before Henrie Korthout of Fytagoras B.V. provided a glimpse of the future when he outlined new techniques to identify the important bioactive compounds found in brassicas and other vegetables.

Understanding the chemicals present in different brassicas can be important for marketing purposes. The way in which even the same bioactive compound interacts depends on many different factors and may not always be the same, as Nicole van Dam explained: “Every crop has its own profile and benefits and its own composition pathway. You cannot always claim that a particular glucosinolate is healthy, so you have to understand what you are talking about.”

As plant breeders have worked over the years to produce sweeter, less bitter tasting brassicas, they may also have made them more palatable to certain pests, many of which are deterred from eating crops with high glucosinolate levels. However, this isn’t always the case and it was pointed out that some species, such as Pieris brassicae and P. rapae are actually attracted to the plants by these compounds.

Focus on marketing 

In the afternoon the focus turned to marketing, with consultant Elena Ozeritskaya of Fresh Insight discussing megatrends which affect the consumption habits of consumers of different ages, in particular the rise of ‘Generation Y’. This globally aware, media focused group is changing the way they consume everything from information to food, with formal meals often being replaced by snacking. “Retailers will have a real challenge to come up with concepts for this generation,” warned Elena.

Possible ways of appealing to these new consumers were suggested by Jeff Trickett, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bejo in the United States, and Daniëlle Bruin, Marketing & Communication Advisor for Bejo. They discussed the differences between products in the US and European markets and presented details of Bejo’s new product concepts such as Léttage salad cabbage, Coolwrap cabbage rolls and Kohrispy kohlrabi sticks.

“We are trying to lead the way in terms of seed to plate development,” explained Jeff. With this in mind Bejo is looking to expand on the success of cabbage wraps (which have the added benefit of being gluten free), with other new lines, including purple sprouting broccoli, pointed cabbage (which is unknown in the United States) and, possibly, kale wraps, each of which uses specially selected Bejo varieties.

Each session ended with a panel discussion giving delegates the chance to question all of the speakers, prompting lively debate and during the breaks there was a chance to network and try cooked samples of the new innovations, with Coolwrap rolls proving especially popular during lunch.

This post first appeared on SeedQuest on 15 October 2015

Produce World launches sprouting cauliflower

Produce World has begun supplying Chinese sweet sprouting cauliflower to selected Waitrose stores and hopes that the new, sweeter brassica will be a hit with children.

“At the moment we are doing a small commercial trial, if it is as successful as we expect it to be then we will definitely increase production next year,” explained Peter Crowe, from Produce World. “It’s a very robust cauliflower, and is the main type produced in China. All the shelf life tests give us more than adequate time without deterioration. In fact it has better holding power than traditional cauliflower, as there is less curd and more stem.”

“At the moment this is a niche product, but we would like this to be as successful as some other similar innovations over the years such as Chantenay carrots. It will slot in very well with such products as Bellaverde,” added Peter. “We think that one of the reasons that this product will be popular is because of its sweet tasting stem. This also makes it really easy to prepare. We are in the business of meeting consumer needs, so if we find other sprouting veg. that meets these needs then we will definitely be interested in growing them and bringing them to market.”

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