Louisiana vegetable growers produce spinach for local retail sales at farmers markets and roadside stands in the fall, winter and spring. Growers make several small plantings of spinach at different times from late September to mid-February. This provides a consistent supply of spinach for sale from November through April.
Growers generally cut a spinach planting two times, occasionally three. Cuttings are generally made three to four week apart. The multiple cuttings provide a volume of product and a good return from a small piece of land. Spinach brings a premium price, providing a cash flow during the late winter and early spring when the supply of other vegetables is limited.
Louisiana growers want a spinach variety that is early in maturing with dark green, savoy type leaves on a upright growing plant with good vigor that does not bolt.
Twenty two spinach varieties were evaluated at the Burden Center in Baton Rouge, La. Preplant fertilizer at the rate of 400 pounds of 8-24-24/acre was applied in two drills spaced 12 inches apart on each row on September 29, 2005. RoNeet 6EC (2 quarts/acre) was applied October 13, 2006, as a preplant incorporated preemergence herbicide before planting. The spinach was planted October 17, 2005. The varieties were planted double drill with a Earth Way Precision Garden seeder in 25-foot plots, replicated three times. The spinach was sidedressed with 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate/acre on November 10, 2005, and again after the first cutting on December 19, 2005. The plots were cultivated after each cutting to destroy all the old leaves .
The plots were cut twice -- on December 15, 2006, and again on February 1, 2006.The varieties were evaluated three times, December 13, 2005, January 30, 2006, and March 13, 2006.
The spinach varieties were evaluated for maturity, color, leaf type, plant type, vigor and stem length and bolting. Melody was included in the test as the check variety.
The top savoy type variety in the test was Unipak 151. It is a mid early maturing variety that maintained a dark green color on a semi-upright plant with good vigor. It had a medium stem length and did not bolt in the test.
The variety Tyee was the second savoy type variety. Tyee is a medium maturing variety which maintained a green color. It is an upright-growing plant with good vigor and medium stem length. It did not bolt during the time of the test.
The top semi-savoy type variety was Greyhound. It is mid-early in maturity, maintains green color with a very vigorous upright plant with a medium-long stem. It did not bolt in the test.
Two smooth-leaf varieties performed well in the test -- Ballet and Tiger Cat. Ballet is a early smooth-leaf variety that maintained green color with a semi-upright plant with good to very good vigor and medium stem length. It did not bolt during the test. Tiger Cat is a mid-early smooth-leaf variety with green color on a semi-upright plant with good vigor and a long stem length. It did not bolt during the test.
A complete table on the performance of the 22 spinach varieties in this demonstration plot is attached.
Louisiana vegetable growers are encouraged to try these new spinach varieties.