A Taste of Europe…Lettuce and Kale Variety Trial
MoravoSeed Vegetable Variety Trials
Authors: Kiki Fontenot, Mary Sexton, Whitney Wallace and Matthew Voitier
Background: The LSU AgCenter Vegetable Specialist had the opportunity to visit Mendel University in the Czech Republic. During her visit, she toured MoravoSeed a vegetable breeding company located in Mikulov. MoravoSeed has bred vegetable varieties for various regions of Eastern and Western Europe. MoravoSeed donated seed for this trial to determine if several varieties are suited to the Southeastern portion of the United States, in particular Louisiana.
Lettuce and kale are popular crops grown in both the spring and fall season in Louisiana. On larger farms, leafy greens are produced on plastic mulch to help keep them clean. In smaller operations, leafy greens are grown on bare soil and later washed. A few operations in Louisiana also grow leafy greens in greenhouses using hydroponic systems.
Objective:Kale and lettuce varieties were grown to evaluate yield (fresh weight), head size (height and width of head) and taste (bitter/non bitter). Prior to this study, these varieties were not grown in the United States so their performance was unknown.
Materials and Methods:
Lettuce varieties -‘Dubacek’, ‘Redin’, ‘Rosela’, ‘Crimson’, ‘Nikolaj’, ‘Herkules’, ‘Rekord’
Kale varieties -‘Kadet’, ‘Scarlet’, ‘Kapral’, ‘Rossignol’, ‘Husar’, ‘Kapitan’ F1.
Varieties were seeded on December 15, 2016 into 50 count trays. Seedling trays were maintained in a greenhouse at the LSU AgCenter Botanical Gardens for three weeks and then moved outdoors for one week to harden off.
For this trial, lettuce and kale transplants were planted on white plastic mulch with drip irrigation. The trial was conducted at Covey Rise Farms in Husser, LA. Seedlings were planted in the field on January 18, 2017. Each variety was replicated in 3 blocks with 16 plants per block.Lettuce was double drilled with 12 inch spacing between plants and approximately 8 inch spacing between drills. Plastic mulch was laid the previous season, therefore holes were punched in the center of the plastic and fertilizer was applied at a rate of 400lbs/ acre. The field was irrigated as needed.
All lettuce heads were harvested on April 3, 2017. Prior to harvest, lettuce heads were measured from the plastic mulch to the tallest growing point for height and across the head measuring from the two widest points to represent diameter. Lettuce was harvested by cutting the entire head flush with the plastic mulch. Each head was weighed for fresh weight. Ten random samples from the 16 heads per plot were collected in each lettuce plot.
Where the lettuce was harvested as an individual unit, kale was harvested twice from the same plant. Harvest dates for kale occurred on April 3, 2017 and April 18, 2017. Kale was not measured for height and width as most producers snip individual leaves and then bundle them at each harvest. Foliage that was fully expanded but less than 8 inches long was pinched from the plant on each of 10 plants per plot. Kale foliage was weighed from individual plants for fresh weight.
A taste test was conducted for the lettuce varieties in two locations, Julian C Miller Hall at Louisiana State University’s main campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and at the Tangipahoa County agent’s office in Amite, Louisiana. Individual participants were asked to provide two ratings. The first was a visual rating where participants ranked each variety as “would purchase” or “would not purchase.”Then participants were asked to taste each variety and rank the flavor as “bitter” or “not bitter”. Lettuce was consumed plain. Condiments were not used in this taste test.
N= 150 plants per variety.
All lettuce and kale varieties had acceptable germination rates above 80%.
(% of participants willing to purchase)
(% of participants rating not-Bitter)
Statistical analysis was completed using ARM program. ARM software written by Gylling Data Management, Inc. Data within columns having different letters are statistically significant at the p = 0.05. Eighty-three people participated in the visual rating and taste test. N= 30 heads ( 10 heads per plot).
The top performing lettuce varieties in this trial included ‘Rosela’, ‘Herkules’ and ‘Dubacek’. Of these three varieties there were no significant differences in fresh weight. ‘Rosela’ was significantly taller and wider than both ‘Herkules’ and ‘Dubacek’.‘Rekord’ was by far the smallest in visual appearance but had wonderful color and texture. Appearance of size is important when farmers are marketing their lettuce by the head, and total weight is important when marketing by the pound. Producers want to grow heads that return some profit so yields are extremely important.
Upon visual inspection at least 80% of participants were willing to purchase these three varieties and upon tasting the three varieties at least 81% rated them as not bitter. The only remaining preference for the grower would be if he or she preferred a red or green color lettuce head. ‘Redin’ had substantial weight and size, it was not statistically different from the top three performers in fresh weight however it did not achieve high ratings for visual appeal or taste among participants. Based on this lettuce trial we recommend Louisiana producers grow the varieties ‘Herkules’, ‘Dubacek’ and ‘Rosela’ on their farm.
Harvest 1 Fresh Weight (g)
Harvest 2 Fresh Weight (g)
Total Fresh Weight (g)
Statistical analysis was completed using ARM program. ARM software written by Gylling Data Management, Inc. Data within columns having different letters are statistically significant at the p = 0.05. N = 30 plants (Ten plants per plot).
There were no significant differences in fresh weight between varieties in the first harvest. However, ‘Hussar’ yielded significantly more weight on the second harvest than the other tested varieties. Combining both the first and second harvest together there were no significant differences in total fresh weight between varieties, except ‘Hussar’ produced significantly more foliage than ‘Rossignol’. The kale plants were all visually appealing. We recommend all of these varieties to Louisiana producers. Growers providing produce to upscale restaurant markets, may want to try ‘Scarlet’ because of its unique purple foliage. Upscale restaurants are always looking for variation in color, size and appearance.