Broccoli, scientifically known as Brassica oleracea, is a type of vegetable grown under full sun (either during the spring or fall). Just like spinach, broccoli is a cool-season kind of crop, and continual harvests can be obtained throughout the seasons as mentioned above with a correct timing of planting. There are three types of broccoli: the sprouting broccoli which is sometimes referred to as Calabrese or Italian broccoli and the heading broccoli which, in actual sense is not a broccoli at all as it's usually an overwintering or a late season cauliflower. The third type is known as broccoli rabe which never produces a head and is often used as a greens crop ("Broccoli"). However, the most common type is the sprouting broccoli. Broccoli was originally grown in ancient Roman times before being introduced in England in early eighteenth century. In the USA, it was first grown commercially in California and became a crop of significance after the Second World War. Broccoli germinates in soil with temperatures above 40oF, requires full sun and moist, fertile slightly acidic sandy soil. Farmers planting in the spring usually have their seed or set transplants three weeks before the emergence of the last spring frost. Fall plantings should be undertaken 90 days before the onset of the first fall frost. Broccoli usually requires fertilizing three weeks after transplanting and being provided with consistent soil moisture especially regular watering for drought conditions. Broccoli is harvested when the head buds are tight and firm, just before the flowering of the heads, immediately yellow petals appear (Orzolek, M. D et al.).
In the USA, the leading producers of broccoli are California, Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, and Oregon. However, California produces 90% of the total crop produced in the United States of America. Broccoli is also grown on a large scale in Italy, sections of Northern Europe and the Far ("U.S. Broccoli Statistics"). Due to the high rate of respiration of freshly harvested broccoli, they must be kept under cool conditions to slow down the respiration rate. To achieve maximum shelf life also, a low temperature is a necessity for broccoli. This explains the use of averagely perforated plastic film packaging serving to minimize wilting. Broccoli should also be handled softly both during harvesting and packing to ensure minimal damage to floret tissues. This also leads to a significantly decreased level of decays. It must also be noted that broccoli should be stored at temperatures ranging between 4oC and 8oC so as to achieve a storage life of between 14 and 18 days. Prolonged storage, however, results in loss of quality through; wilting, decay, opening of head buds and yellowing of leaves and buds. However, broccoli is not sensitive to chilly conditions and therefore, should be stored at low temperatures without necessarily freezing. During transportation, shipping containers should be well aerated to fend off an accumulation of off-odors.
While conducting this research, I relied heavily on the library database as instructed. I used books and online materials with relevant information regarding the definition, production, harvesting, handling (cooling, storage, and transportation) of broccoli. Information regarding the States and countries that produce broccoli were obtained from internet sources. This proved the easiest and best method considering that they are sources that can be easily updated contrary to books which have to be re-written (new editions) for such updates to be found therein. I also read some online articles and journals on vegetables to equip myself with the required and necessary knowledge on broccoli.
"Broccoli". Old Farmer's Almanac, 2017, http://www.almanac.com/plant/broccoli.
Orzolek, M. D et al. Broccoli Production. 1st ed., [University Park, Pa.], Penn State, College Of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension, 1995,."U.S. Broccoli Statistics". Usda.Mannlib.Cornell.Edu, 2017, http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1816.
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