To determine if present commercial broccoli cultivars meet the diverse needs of organic management systems, such as adaptation to low N input, mechanical weed management, and no chemical pesticide use, and to propose the selection environments for crop improvement for organic production, we compared horticultural trait performance of 23 broccoli cultivars (G) under two management (M) systems (organic and conventional) in two regions of the United States (Oregon and Maine), including spring and fall trials. In our trials, location and season had the largest effect on broccoli head weight, with Oregon outperforming Maine, and fall trials outperforming spring plantings. M main effects and G × M interactions were often small, but G × M × E (location and season) were large. Cultivars with both greater head weight and stability under conventional conditions generally had high head weight and stability under organic growing conditions, although there were exceptions in cultivar rank between management systems. Larger genotypic variances and somewhat increased error variances observed in organic compared with conventional management systems led to repeatability for head weight and other horticultural traits that were similar or even higher in organic compared with conventional conditions. The ratio of correlated response (predicting performance under organic conditions when evaluated in conventional conditions) to direct response (predicted performance in organic when evaluated under organic conditions) for all traits was close to but less than 1.0 with the exception of bead uniformity. This would imply that in most cases, direct selection in an organic environment could result in a more rapid genetic gain than indirect selection in a conventional environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science