Organic Brussels Sprouts in the Northeast: Variety, Pest Control and Storage Trials

2012 Annual Report for FNE11-724

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2011: $6,134.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Robin Ostfeld
Blue Heron Farm

Organic Brussels Sprouts in the Northeast: Variety, Pest Control and Storage Trials


This project has two main objectives. The first is to evaluate six different Brussels sprouts varieties, comparing yield, flavor, pest and disease resistance, heat resistance and appearance while growing. Post harvest, the varieties will be compared as to how they maintain their quality in storage for a period of 2 months. The second goal is a comparison of two OMRI approved pesticides for the control of cabbage aphids, using a buffer plot between the two, and a control plot to compare pest populations.

The six varieties of Brussels sprouts for comparison were seeded, transplanted, and maintained throughout the growing season. They were photographed as they were growing and at harvest. They were evaluated periodically as the plants matured on a scale of 1-5. Storage comparisons will be conducted in late December and again at the end of January. The pest control plot was maintained throughout the growing season, and pest scouting was performed regularly starting in September. Both plots were sprayed for flea beetles and lepidopterous pests. Fortunately for me, though unfortunately for the research, cabbage aphids never appeared, though in previous years they have been a significant problem. The comparison of aphid pest controls was not performed in 2012. It may be useful to continue the study for another year in order to gain some useful information on this usually common pest.

Objectives/Performance Targets


The variety trial has garnered useful information. I observed significant differences between the six cultivars, and chose two that performed much better than the rest. The overall quality of the harvested stalks was very good, leading me to believe that this crop holds great potential for improved yields in our region.

Two new ideas have cropped up about how this project could be altered to be more useful. First, as mentioned above, I think that another year of aphid control research would be helpful, because the lack of aphid population in 2012 was probably a fluke. Second, an extension of another year would be helpful in order to have a complete presentation ready to share at a winter conference. The conferences schedules are organized well in advance, so that my results will be too late to be included in 2013.

We had another challenging growing season. Dry, hot weather persisted throughout the summer and into the early fall. Irrigation water ran very low, though our ponds never completely dried up. Despite this, crop quality was excellent, and yields were good, especially in the fall. Mild weather throughout most of December made extended harvests of hardy crops like Brussels sprouts possible.

My advisor Jan van der Heide did advise me about variety selections, but never came to observe the plots. Because of the lack of pest problems, I never contacted Tony Shelton to ask for his advice.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Jan van der Heide

[email protected]
Bejo Seeds
1088 Healey Road
Geneva, NY 14456-9131
Office Phone: 3157894155
Tony Shelton

[email protected]
Advisor entomologist
Cornell University
Barton Lab 416, 630 W. North St.
Geneva, NY 14456
Office Phone: 3157872352