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Publication #HS1225

Evaluation of Lettuce Cultivars for Production on Muck Soils in Southern Florida1

German Sandoya and Huangjun Lu2

Introduction

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is an economically important winter vegetable crop in Florida, with approximately 11,000 acres in production and a farm gate value of $70–$80 million annually. Florida lettuce production occurs mainly in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) (Figure 1), located just south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, in a rich organic soil called “muck” (Figure 2). Iceberg and romaine are the predominant types of lettuce grown in Florida. Lettuce production typically begins in late September and finishes in early May.

Figure 1. 

The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) located just south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County, Florida.


Credit:

Gustavo F. Kreutz, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 2. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Historically, the University of Florida lettuce breeding program released valuable cultivars to the lettuce breeding industry, including ‘Tall Guzmaine’, ‘Short Guzmaine’, and ‘Floriglade’, which were the last cultivars released by the UF/IFAS lettuce breeding program (Guzman 1986). The importance of ‘Tall Guzmaine’ is outstanding; it has been incorporated as parental breeding material in modern romaine cultivars planted in the United States and abroad.

Table 1 presents a summary of lettuce cultivars released by the University of Florida lettuce breeding program by Dr. Victor Guzman (in memoriam), with information on diseases and a physiological disorder commonly affecting lettuce growers in south Florida.

Cultivars currently used in Florida lettuce production were exclusively developed by the private sector. These cultivars are planted in three distinct production seasons in south Florida—early planting in the fall, intermediate planting in the winter, and late planting in the spring. Some of the iceberg, romaine, leaf, and Bibb lettuce cultivars used are listed in Table 2.

Although each private lettuce-breeding program has its own variety trials, decisions and recommendations for released cultivars are based on visual observations in the field. Data on effects of current cultivars, production locations, and their interactions on lettuce yields are limited.

In 2010 and 2011, variety trials at the UF/IFAS EAA included commercial cultivars and UF/IFAS breeding lines, including romaine and iceberg types (Lu et al. 2011; Lu and Sui 2012). These trials were conducted on muck soils following UF/IFAS-recommended practices. In 2010, experiments were planted in early fall planting season on October 22 and in mid-winter planting season on January 23. In 2011, experiments were carried out in early season in fall with a planting date of October 13 and in mid-season (transition between fall and winter planting seasons) with a planting date of November 26. Overall, yield was lower in 2010 than in 2011 because three freezes in December 2010 caused plant damage to early-season trials.

Several romaine, iceberg, and Bibb lettuce lines were assessed for yield and marketability in 2017.

Cultivar and UF Breeding Lines Characteristics

Cultivars

'Manatee: ‘Manatee’ is historically important in Florida’s lettuce production and was the major cultivar before 2011. However, it did not have good yield overall in variety trials, particularly in 2011 (Table 1), because it had low yield in the mid-season trials. ‘Manatee’ has resistance to early bolting and grows better in the early growing season (from late September to early October) and late growing season (from middle of April to early May) when temperatures are high. This cultivar can be used in lettuce production in both the early and late growing seasons when other cultivars are not suitable for production due to hot weather. ‘Manatee’ also has medium resistance to aphids.

'Terrapin: This romaine cultivar had the highest yield and the highest percent of marketable heads in variety trials (Table 1). It can be planted from November to January and harvested in January through March to maximize profits.

'Okeechobee: This cultivar yielded well in the variety trials, and its yield was stable across years (Table 1). ‘Okeechobee’ is suitable for production in the months from November through April.

'Gator: ‘Gator’ is an iceberg cultivar used for lettuce production for many years. In the variety trials, it had the highest yield among the iceberg cultivars in 2010 but the lowest yield in 2011 (Table 2). However, the yields of all three iceberg cultivars were not significantly different

in 2011. ‘Gator’ can continue to be used as a major cultivar in lettuce production in south Florida.

'Raleigh: ‘Raleigh’ is an old variety released in 1984 (Guzman 1984). This variety had low yield in 2010 but high yield in 2011. Because ‘Raleigh’ is an east-coast type of lettuce and farmers in the EAA area no longer grow this kind of lettuce, this variety is not recommended for production.

UF Breeding lines

'70096: This romaine breeding line yielded poorly in 2010 because it had early bolting in the late-season trials that year, but it had good yield in 2011 (Table 1). This variety showed strong resistance to banded cucumber beetle and was found to be cold-tolerant and seed-thermo-dormancy-resistant in the variety trials (Lu et al. 2011; Lu and Sui 2012). However, ‘70096’ is tipburn sensitive and is aphid-susceptible.

'8074: This breeding line had stable yield across years (Table 2). Although its head looks relatively small, leaves of the head are tightly compacted, making the head relatively heavy.

Management

All cultivars except for ‘70096’ and ‘Raleigh’ are recommended for lettuce production in Florida. The following management practices for lettuce production in Florida have been designed by UF/IFAS Extension specialists based on research results and are available online.

Fertilization: See Hochmuth et al. (2009; 2012) for recommendation of fertilization (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wq114 and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/cv008).

Insect management: Information is available in UF/IFAS fact sheets CIR1460 (Mossler and Dunn 2005, https://journals.flvc.org/edis/article/view/114335/109652) and ENY-475 (Nuessly and Webb 2010, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig161).

Disease management: The major diseases of lettuce in Florida and their management are described in Raid (2004).

Weed control: Control of weeds in lettuce is described in Dittmar and Stall (2013, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg031).

References

Dittmar, P., and W. Stall. 2013. Weed Management in Leafy Greens (Lettuce, Endive, Escarole, and Spinach). HS203. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg031

Guzman, V. L. 1984. ‘South Bay’ and ‘Raleigh’, Two Crisphead Lettuce Cultivars Resistant to Corky Root Rot for Organic Soils. Circ. S-310. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Guzman, V. L. 1986. ‘Short Guzmaine’, ‘Tall Guzmaine’, and ‘Floriglade’, Three Cos Lettuce Cultivars Resistant to Lettuce Mosaic Virus. Circ. S-326. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Hochmuth, G., Ed. Hanlon, R. Nagata, G. Snyder, and T. Schueneman. 2009. Fertilization Recommendations for Crisphead Lettuce Grown on Organic Soils in Florida. SP153. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wq114

Hochmuth, G., E. Hanlon, G. Snyder, R. Nagata, and T. Schueneman. 2012. Fertilization of Sweet Corn, Celery, Romaine, Escarole, Endive, and Radish on Organic Soils in Florida. BUL313. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/cv008

Lu, H., A. Wright, and D. Sui. 2011. “Responses of Lettuce Cultivars to Insect Pests in Southern Florida.” HortTechnology 21(6): 773–778.

Lu, H., and D. Sui. 2012. “Field Performance of Lettuce Cultivars Used in Southern Florida.” 2012 FSHS Proceedings 125: 137–138.

Mossler, M. A., and E. Dunn. 2005. Florida Crop/Pest Management Profile: Lettuce. CIR1460. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. https://journals.flvc.org/edis/article/view/114335/109652

Nuessly, G. S., and S. E. Webb. 2010. Insect Management for Leafy Vegetables. ENY-475. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig161

Raid, R. N. 2004. “Lettuce Diseases and their Management.” Diseases of Fruits and Vegetables. 121–147.

SAS Institute. 2010. Cary, NC. http://www.sas.com

Tables

Table 1. 

University of Florida historical lettuce cultivar releases of iceberg, romaine, and Bibb types.

Type

Cultivar

Characteristics

BLS1

CRR2

LDM3

FWL4

LMV5

TB6

Iceberg

Floricrisp 1265

S

S

U

T

S

U

 

Floricrisp 1366

S

S

U

U

S

U

 

Gator

S

R

U

U

U

U

 

Raleigh

S

T

U

U

S

U

 

South Bay

U

T

U

U

S

U

               

Romaine

Florida 1974

U

U

U

U

R

U

 

Floricos 83

S

T

SR

S

R

U

 

Floriglade

U

T

U

U

R

U

 

Short Guzmaine

S

U

U

U

R

U

 

Tall Guzmaine

S

T

U

S

R

U

 

Terrapin

S

U

U

S

U

U

               

Bibb

Everglades

U

S

SR

U

R

R

 

Floribibb

S

S

SR

T

R

U

 

Florida Buttercrisp

U

R

S

U

T

T

 

Florida 202

U

R

S

U

R

R

1 BLS, Bacterial leaf spot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris p.v. vitians

2 CRR, Corky root rot, caused by the bacterium Rizoraphis suberifaciens

3 LDM, Lettuce downy mildew, caused by the oomycete Bremia lactucae

4 FWL, Fusarium wilt of lettuce, caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lactucae

5 LMV, Lettuce mosaic virus, caused by the lettuce mosaic virus

6 TB, Tipburn, a disorder related to calcium deficiency or excessive heat

R= Resistant, SR=Some resistance, T=Tolerant, S=Susceptible, U= Unknown

Table 2. 

Partial list of lettuce cultivars of iceberg, romaine, leaf, and Bibb types currently planted in the EAA in south Florida.

Type

Cultivar

Planting slot

Vendor

Iceberg

Belle Glade

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

 

Chosen

Early

3 Star Lettuce

 

Flagler

Throughout

3 Star Lettuce

 

Lantana

Early

3 Star Lettuce

 

Cooper

Intermediate/Late

3 Star Lettuce

Romaine

Hialeah

Throughout

3 Star Lettuce

 

Homestead

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

 

Okeechobee

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

 

Manatee

Throughout

3 Star Lettuce

 

Sawgrass

Intermediate/Late

3 Star Lettuce

 

Tammy

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

 

1505

Intermediate/Late

3 Star Lettuce

 

Desert Gold

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

 

Solid King

Intermediate

Central Valley Seeds

Leaf

RSX743

Throughout

3 Star Lettuce

 

Big Star

Intermediate

Central Valley Seeds

 

3SX739

Intermediate

3 Star Lettuce

Bibb

Palmetto

Throughout

3 Star Lettuce

Table 3. 

Yield (lb/ac) and marketable heads (MH) (%) of romaine lettuce grown in Belle Glade, FL, in 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Cultivar/Line

2010

2011

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

Terrapin

18,600 a

88 a

26,100 a

93 a

Manatee

17,700 a

86 a

15,500 b

77 b

Okeechobee

16,800 a

84 a

21,400 ab

89 a

70096

15,300 a

86 a

22,600 a

89 a

*Means in a column followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P > 0.05) according to the least significant difference (LSD) test (SAS Institute 2010).

Table 4. 

Yield (lb/ac) and marketable heads (MH) (%) of iceberg lettuce grown in Belle Glade, FL, in 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Cultivar/Line

2010

2011

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

Gator

14,700 a

86 a

15,600 a

77 b

8074

12,400 b

83 ab

18,200 a

89 a

Raleigh

11,200 b

79 b

20,500 a

89 a

*Means in a column followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P > 0.05) according to the least significant difference (LSD) test (SAS Institute 2010).

Table 5. 

Yield (lb/ac), and percentage of marketable heads (MH), of iceberg, romaine, and Bibb lettuce grown in Belle Glade, FL, in a 2017 experiment.

Cultivar/Line

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

 

Cultivar/Line

Yield (lb/ac)

% MH

Iceberg

Romaine

Chosen*

13,398

74

Manatee*

17,457

87

Flagler*

15,015

86

Okeechobee*

17,886

91

Cooper*

15,873

85

Sawgrass*

15,939

90

Belle Glade*

16,071

68

Homestead*

20,361

95

Lantana*

14,091

75

Hialeah*

15,180

95

Floricrisp 1265

18,942

91

Floricos 83

11,451

90

Minetta

21,186

97

43007

14,421

90

Shawnee

16,236

95

45060

5,115

97

1265

13,035

89

46087

4,686

98

1443

13,992

72

50098

15,048

86

1502

11,847

78

50100

15,147

100

1508

10,428

92

60183

13,134

96

47079

17,226

86

60184

24,024

90

47083

16,929

97

60185

22,770

86

47098

13,266

89

70096

8,778

85

48060

16,500

96

C1139

12,738

95

49017

14,058

85

C1142

14,718

87

49019

12,342

87

C1145

17,688

100

49085

11,055

84

C1146

5,709

100

49758

14,157

86

Bibb

49889

10,857

78

Floribibb

5,775

96

50011

15,180

15

60173

8,679

67

50114

23,166

100

60176

8,679

92

50664

23,859

90

18076

8,052

81

60154

20,130

86

60174

9,438

79

60155

16,797

85

60178

9,603

95

60157

18,876

87

70202

8,382

89

60158

20,064

97

 

60159

23,001

94

60160

19,800

97

60161

13,200

16

60162

25,212

98

60163

21,747

97

60166

17,556

90

60167

19,635

93

60168

21,450

91

60169

14,355

62

60171

20,856

91

60172

16,665

80

60180

20,790

94

*Starred germplasms are commercial cultivars planted in Florida; others listed are advanced breeding lines or old cultivar releases from the UF/IFAS lettuce breeding program.

Footnotes

1.

This document is HS1225, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 2013. Revised February 2020. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

German Sandoya, assistant professor, and Huangjun Lu, former assistant professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade, FL 33430.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.