The quality and success of a lettuce crop will depend on the varieties you plant, growing methods and the where your farm is located. Carefully consider all aspects of growing and marketing this highly perishable crop before you choose to become a grower.
Lettuce varieties suitable to your growing area are constantly changing. Contact a commercial seedling nursery or seed supplier for the most up-to-date information. Varieties are bred to perform under a distinct temperature range, so make your choice with seasonal and recent weather patterns in mind.
Temperature fluctuations during the growing period have a major impact on performance. For example:
- A cool-weather variety grown under warm conditions will tend to bolt.
- Warm-weather varieties will not produce high quality heads once temperatures exceed their optimal growth range.
- Winter varieties will tolerate mild frosts, but no varieties will withstand heavy frosts.
Nutrient level and time of application also impact on lettuce quality.
Testing lettuce varieties
Test varieties over several seasons, to help develop a variety plan for your farm.
Test new varieties by planting them side-by-side with standard varieties so you can easily compare throughout the growing season. Start with small quantities at first - such as, 2-3 new varieties every time you plant.
Varieties for autumn or spring harvest
In the Lockyer Valley or Darling Downs there’s a chance of a light frost in autumn or some hot days in early spring. Be careful to choose a lettuce variety that can handle variations in temperature, since it will often change from day to day during autumn and spring harvest.
Some commercial growers plant two varieties, during critical temperature change over periods (e.g. Spring into Summer) so that at least half of the planting will perform well if the weather is cooler or warmer than usual.