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Next: building a better broccoli

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

LongNeckBroccoli.jpgThe desirability of a long neck is well established: swans, Audrey Hepburn, bottled beer. Now along comes the humble, nutritious broccoli with the same ambition. Not just for looks, mind you, but for a much different long-necked reason: decapitation. Jim Myers, a professor of vegetable breeding and genetics at Oregon State University’s department of horticulture, has spent the past decade patiently (because patience is what it takes in the vegetable kingdom) perfecting a broccoli with, as Myers puts it, “a better architecture.” That includes more uniformity in when it matures, a darker green color and a longer neck that will allow the plant to be more economically harvested by machine instead of man. Myers estimates this new neck is a full 10 centimeters longer (that’s our boy on the left) than the one currently holding up your average broccoli head (on the right), which tucks tightly down into its leaves. And who wouldn’t, with those knives coming at you? Myers says he is close to perfecting the LNB (three years to work out the seed production system and then two more years to produce enough seeds for commercial use), so we think it’s time for a proper name. Broccosaurus? Big Boy Broc? Our favorite: The Anne Boleyn.  ROBIN DOUSSARD



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