Disease Resistant Lettuce Varieties
I was recently asked by a fellow gardener whether the lettuce varieties that we sell at Lambley are F1 hybrids. The simple answer is no. There are no F1 lettuce varieties as far as I know and seed collected from these superb modern varieties will grow true to type.
Lettuce breeding has come along in leaps and bounds over recent years. Much of this innovation has been led by Rijk Zwaan, a Dutch company with a major research and breeding facility near Daylesford in the Central Highlands of Victoria.
One of the most significant problems that Australian lettuce growers have had to face since the turn of the century is the outbreak of lettuce aphid, Nasonovia ribis-nigra, which first appeared in Tasmania in 2004. This pest quickly spread to the mainland and we found it in lettuces growing in our vegetable garden about 10 years ago. Lettuce aphid colonises the centre of lettuce and soon builds up large populations making the lettuce unpalatable and unsaleable to say the least.
Luckily Rijk Zwaan had been researching Nasonovia resistant varieties from the late 1990s and soon had excellent lettuce aphid resistant varieties available for growers. Not only were these varieties resistant to lettuce aphids they were also better performers than older varieties.
Rijk Zwaan’s research programme is expensive and their seed isn’t cheap but the results in the flavour, quick growth, excellent disease resistance and slow bolting more than offset any extra cost.
All lettuce seed sold by Rijk Zwaan in Australia is primed, that is germination is initiated in the seed and then halted the seed is then pelleted into a small ball. This process gives a quicker and surer germination no matter what the weather conditions.
Rijk Zwaan are the breeders of the Salanova range of lettuce. Commercial growers harvest these as fully mature heads, they then cut out the core and a multitude of small uniformly sized leaves are ready for baby leaf salad mix. As the lettuce are fully grown (only the leaves are small), the heads produce 40% more leaves than traditional baby leaf lettuce and have a better flavour and texture. Salanova lettuce are slow to bolt which is a great advantage to home gardeners. In my own garden I rarely harvest the whole heads but pick individual leaves as required. Salanova lettuce will produce fresh leaves for 8 or more weeks after reaching maturity.
The following are the Rijk Zwaan varieties that we sell. All are fantastic lettuce, the best of their kind. Seed can be sown the year round. I sow one seed 1/2cm deep 20-25 cm apart.
$5.25 Each for 30 seeds