HortScience 46: 1093-1097

Breeding Vegetables Adapted to High Temperatures: A Case Study with Broccoli

Mark Farnham* and Thomas Björkman**

*USDA-ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, 2700 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29414
**Department of Horticulture, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456

ABSTRACT Breeding a vegetable crop for adaptation to a temperature regime that is higher than the recognized optimum for the species in question is an example of breeding for abiotic stress tolerance. Before embarking on a project to breed for such stress tolerance, we propose that several critical considerations or questions must be addressed. These considerations include the following: 1) What is the effect of the abiotic stress on the crop to be improved; 2) what will be the conditions of the selection environment; 3) what germplasm is available that contains the necessary genetic variation to initiate improvement; 4) what breeding scheme will be used to facilitate improvement; and 5) what will be the specific goals of the breeding effort? We use a case study with broccoli to breed for adaptation to high-temperature environments to provide examples of how each of these considerations might be addressed in developing an improvement effort. Based on documented success with this case study in which broccoli quality and performance under high-temperature summer environments has been improved, insights are provided that should be useful to future attempts to breed vegetables more tolerant of an abiotic stress.

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