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N.C. State gets boost for cabbage research

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Using an extensive cabbage germplasm collection given to N.C. State University by Monsanto Co., scientists expect to develop new and improved varieties to increase demand for cabbage and expand production in North Carolina.

“The private to public transition of an advanced vegetable breeding program is unique,” says Dr. Allan Brown, a researcher with N.C. State University‘s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. “To our knowledge, this cabbage germplasm collection represents the last large-scale cabbage breeding program in the United States.

N.C. State will use the gift to “address the needs of cabbage growers in North Carolina by developing new and improved varieties that will increase demand and expand production,” Brown adds.

The material includes germplasm from the United States, Europe and Japan. The collection, previously managed by Monsanto cabbage breeder Dr. Glen Ruttencutter, consists primarily of blue-green to green varieties, but also includes red and Savoy cabbages. The collection has the potential to provide resistance to key diseases such as black rot and Fusarium yellows.

The breeding lines have been developed and evaluated at locations throughout the country, including North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Quality, flavor and disease resistance were the initial priorities of this program. Brown says that he will continue evaluations throughout North Carolina, the fifth-leading cabbage-producing state. North Carolina’s crop is valued at more than $14 million annually.

“A collaborative effort within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences involving the Department of Horticultural Science, the Plants for Human Health Institute and N.C. MarketReady will include an outreach program with growers that will allow us to assess and prioritize needs in the coastal plains and the western regions of the state where most cabbage is produced,” he said. “We also plan to collaborate with fellow institutions and private industry to help make N.C. State University a leader in cabbage breeding.”

“Monsanto is pleased to contribute cabbage germplasm to N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus,” said Consuelo Madere, Monsanto’s Global Vegetable and Asia Commercial lead.

“We sell cabbage seed under our Seminis brand in several world areas,” she said, “and we are delighted that the institute will be working at NCRC to develop cabbage varieties well-suited to the local production needs in North Carolina. It’s a great example of public and private efforts coming together at the campus.”