In the UK we import approximately 70% of our vegetables leading to higher prices for customers and carbon emissions due to transport. Increasing the production of UK grown crops would reduce waste and imports.
We have developed a new fast-growing variety of broccoli through our research into the seasonal influence on the flowering time control gene FLC.
Plants regulate their flowering time through a process called vernalisation, where they sense a period of cold before flowering. An increasingly unpredictable climate means that we cannot guarantee a prolonged period of cold making it difficult to schedule the harvest time of crops such as broccoli.
By removing the requirement for cold, the team has been able to develop a type of broccoli which can be harvested twice annually in field conditions or up to five times a year if grown in a protected environment.
Discussions are progressing with industry across the supply chain focused on the introduction of new vegetable products based on the fast-growing broccoli line.
Impacts to Date
- Licence agreements are in place with three plant breeding companies to allow them to use this knowledge to develop and select new crops.
- One retailer has shown an interest in accessing vegetables produced as a result of this technology which would allow year-round production of broccoli within the UK, reducing imports, waste and reliance on overseas production.
- Through a Transforming Food Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund award we have assessed the economic feasibility of producing this crop using vertical farming techniques and are now in discussion with vertical farming companies regarding production.