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Vegetable Masterclass: Eazyleaf® Lettuce

Vegetable Masterclass: Eazyleaf® Lettuce

 

Harris Seeds is excited to offer varieties from the Eazyleaf® assortment as a part of our lettuce program.

What are Eazyleaf Lettuces?

The Eazyleaf series is made up of lettuces that are considered “one-cut” varieties, meaning that with a single cut, you can harvest the same crop for either loose-leaf or whole head sales.

The key feature that makes this possible is the narrow leaf attachment and high leaf count of Eazyleaf varieties. A single cut just above the base yields uniform leaves that separate easily into individual pieces ready to be prepared for salad mixes, while a cut at the base of the plant allows harvest of the whole head. This gives you the flexibility to harvest for different markets without much adjustment to your harvest and packing process.

Compared to lettuces traditionally used for salad mixes, the Eazyleaf varieties deliver more texture, flavor, volume, and shelf life, a feature that customers are sure to notice, especially after being kept in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. For growers, Eazyleaf offers a wider harvest window from improved field holding ability, and higher yields per bed from the high leaf count and dense heads. Another benefit is that the Eazyleaf lettuce assortment is available at a more economical price point than other one-cut varieties currently available on the market.

Eazyleaf Varieties

Harris Seeds offers 6 Eazyleaf Varieties which include:

Brentwood - This Red Tango type is an excellent choice as a mini head or one-cut harvest. It is widely known for its light green center to dark cherry upper leaf gradient. This Easyleaf lettuce works great in a salad mix, especially when paired with its favorite partner, the Ezrilla. Its large leaves have a glossy and smooth texture with wavy characteristics. With high resistance to bolting, this Eazyleaf type holds well in the field at any point during the year.

Ezrilla - Wait for the entire head to mature, or pick individual leaves with this Green Tango type that features a superior loft and vibrant green color. This speedy growing Eazyleaf type has dark green leaves and a sweet blanched center. Its serrated leaves are an excellent choice for anyone looking to add volume and crunch to their salad mixes. This unique option has a strong resistance to bolting and disease, making it an adaptable lettuce choice for any time of year or region. 

Buckley - This Eazyleaf variety is known for its flavorful leaves. The Buckley is a Red Oakleaf type with dark maroon coloration and lobed leaves. This lettuce has leaves that grow in a tight rosette with a lengthened stem. Buckley lettuce works well when mechanically harvested as a full head or when handpicked as baby leaves. They are suitable for year-round production and grow quickly. Create a lively salad mix when you pair these beautiful Buckley leaves with Hampton lettuce.

Hampton - This shiny Green Oakleaf type is a flexible lettuce variety with dark green leaves that's suitable for year-round production. It has a high leaf set, which makes it great for mechanical or hand harvesting. As a premier example of Eazyleaf lettuces, these are beautiful, easy-to-harvest plants that produce voluminous leaves perfect for any mix. When fully mature, this lettuce type produces a high yield of equally sized leaves. 

Ezbruke - Whether at a market or on a plate, this Eazyleaf variety's colors will attract eyes. They are known for their radiant red outer leaves and deep green inner leaves. The Ezbruke is mini red romaine that provides large deep red leaves on a small open plant habit. Their leaves typically measure about 7 inches long. This lettuce will produce a successful harvest year-round for either a one-cut mix or whole head. 

Stanford - This Red Butter Romaine is a cross between a butterhead and romaine with exceptional flavor. With this combination, this lettuce has the benefit of the taste and texture of a butterhead and the upright growth of romaine. Its dual coloring of deep cherry and green provides a healthy look and colorful contrast for any plate. With its significant tolerance to bolting, this Stanford is easy to grow and harvest, making for a great-tasting salad. 

All these varieties have high resistance to numerous races of Downy Mildew, as well as Lettuce Leaf Aphid, Lettuce Dieback Complex, and Tomato Bushy Stunt Virus.

All 6 Eazyleaf varieties are offered as organic seed, both in raw and pelleted forms, with the pellet also being certified organic.

The seed lots have also all been tested for Lettuce Mosaic Virus, which can be transmitted by seed. This is noted on these varieties by the “MTO” listed after the name, meaning “Mosaic Virus Zero”. So you can be confident that any variety with MTO in the name will be free from seed-transmitted mosaic virus. This will not protect the plants from Mosaic virus that may be transmitted by aphids in the field, however.

Lettuce Culture and Growing Tips

Lettuce prefers loose loams and organic soils with good drainage, and while it is not required to rotate beds after harvesting a crop of lettuce, it is often recommended to encourage healthy soils and pest-free crops. To maintain consistent harvests throughout the season, succession planting about every 2 weeks is a great approach. Consider how much product you need and how frequently you plan to harvest when planning the scope and timing of succession sowings.

Growing Eazyleaf Lettuces

Often growers will direct sow their salad mix lettuces, but with Eazyleaf we recommend sowing into trays and later transplanting into freshly tilled beds for best performance. This will ensure a uniform stand and greater yields per bed than direct sowing, particularly because the transplants will have a head start over any weeds that may be germinating in the bed, and because Eazyleaf varieties can take longer to reach full size than other varieties.

Plan your bed spacing based on the type of product you wish to harvest. Tighter spacing will result in smaller heads but greater total yields per bed, while wider spacing allows room for larger heads, good for whole head harvests. In our trials, we typically use wider spacing so that we can observe the full habit of the plant. In doing this we have seen the Tango-type Eazyleaf varieties, Brentwood and Ezrilla, reach a diameter of 9-10 inches at full size.

Eazyleaf lettuces will reach full size in about 55 – 60 Days. Depending on your preferences and market needs you can harvest before full size, keeping in mind it will give you smaller heads and lower weight yields per bed. As an example, Stanford, the Red Butter Romaine, will often be harvested early as a mini head to serve certain markets.

Eazyleaf varieties are also suitable for both cut and come-again and single harvests. For repeat harvests of loose-leaf product, cut 1-2 inches above the base of the plant, leaving enough core and leaf to allow photosynthesis to continue and encourage re-growth.

For whole head harvests, cut at the base of the plant. Regrowth will be limited, but the head will remain intact.

Eazyleaf lettuces perform well with both mechanical and hand harvesting. Mechanical harvestability gives growers the option to mechanize their entire operation from start to finish– sowing, planting, harvesting, and processing. In turn, hand harvesting gives growers more flexibility to harvest product as they need it for their markets at that moment, be it whole head or loose-leaf, and reduces the amount of usable leaf left in the field.

Another feature of the Easyleaf assortment is exceptional performance in warm climates and hot summers. They are slow to bolt and do not become bitter in the heat, even after a second cutting. Ezrilla and Buckley are two of our favorites when it comes to heat tolerance. Bitterness in lettuce is most often seen under stressful conditions like drought or high heat and when the plant begins to age. Varieties that are tolerant to heat and slow to bolt are often also slow to become bitter.

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