Vegetable Masterclass: Eazyleaf® Lettuce – Harris Seeds

From the Ground Up

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 - a Red Tango type with a striking dark cherry to light green leaf gradient

Ezrilla - a Green Tango type with superior loft and vibrant green color

Buckley - a Red Oakleaf type with dark maroon lobed leaves

Hampton - a Green Oakleaf type that is very dense with high set leaves

Ezbruke - a Red Romaine with large deep red leaves on a small plant habit

Stanford - a Red Butter Romaine, a cross between a butterhead and a romaine with exceptional flavor

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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