New varieties of specialist lettuce for 2014 have been selected by a Gedney Marsh grower to meet the type of weather challenges thrown at farmers over the last two years.
While 2013 was a productive year for J E Piccaver in terms of leaf developments for the salad industry, 2012’s rainfall followed by “the coldest spring for 50 years” highlighted once again that varieties of lettuce have to perform in diverse seasons, said Richard Pett, crop development manager.
He said: “New varieties for 2014 have been selected that can meet these challenges.”
New varieties include Multileaf Red Batavia Stefano, a mild to sweet flavour whose outer leaf tips have an intense red colour which contrasts with the lower green centre.
Richard says the variety offers increased resistance to the Downy Mildew fungus and is suitable for cropping during the complete outdoor season.
Other new varieties include Multileaf Lollo Rossa Ezfilan, bred to offer improved shelf life, and Multileaf Red Coral Wintex, which offers extended shelf life and has been bred with more vigour so is ideal for spring and autumn production.
Much of the business’s R&D is conducted on the soils at Gedney Marsh, especially lettuce types. Further trials are based on the sandy loam soils near Colchester of growing partner Anglia Salads, where the emphasis is on the chicory family.