You only have to look at the real estate the salad mix range holds on the super market shelves to realise that these are products ever increasing in popularity, ticking all the boxes. As consumers we want the full package: convenience, flavour and presentation, and for the growers, the products offer profitability, ease of harvest, and industry growth.
Let’s focus specifically on the fancy lettuce market for now. The products Lefroy Valley are working with are bred for disease resistance, leaf texture, shape, size, colour, flavour, uniformity and resistance to bolting.
As seedsmen and women, we work in conjunction with growers to test all varieties on a pre-commercial basis to understand the suitability to market. Hundreds of varieties are available across the globe, but selecting varieties which are suitable for the Australian conditions is another aspect again. This requires vigorous screening work and results evaluation.
Lefroy Valley has recently launched ‘Manor’ which has the advantage of a great 3D shape but also a distinctive iceberg lettuce flavour, suitable for use in Autumn and Winter in Victoria and winter for warmer regions. There are many options available for both cut leaf and whole head production.
There are a few key diseases which need to be understood:
Downy Mildew (Bl - Bremia lactucae) is a common fungal disease of lettuce which, genetically, is very variable. Officially at this stage there are 31 races which have been identified by the IBEB (the International Bremia Evaluation Board), but many more isolates can be identified although not officially named. Farmers often need to use a program of both fungicides and genetically resistant varieties to prevent heavy loss.
Lettuce leaf aphid (Nr -Nasanovia ribisnigri) is primarily a contamination pest, colonising lettuce hearts and rosettes, making them unsaleable. Under heavy insect loads, lettuce hearts fail to form or die. Adults can be winged or wingless and are greenish to yellow-green, with irregular narrow dark bands on the abdomen.
We are very excited about the new material in the pipeline, so encourage you to watch this space! For more information please contact your sales representative in your region.