Adding new lettuce varieties to your lineup can lengthen your harvest season and increase your customer base while protecting against large-scale crop loss from disease. Discover eight varieties of lettuce that are ideal for cultivation in California.
Green Leaf Lettuce Varieties
Green leaf lettuce varieties are some of the most versatile for culinary use — ranging from sweet to bitter with a delightful “crunch.” They are typically harvested fresh and used in restaurant menus and baby leaf mixes. Nutritionally, green leaf lettuce contains vitamins A, C, K, and folate, making them a nutritional powerhouse with minimal calories.
Big Star is one of the most popular choices for growing lettuce in California. Offered by Central Valley Seeds, Big Star lettuce grows in the open field and is resistant to bolting and tip burn. When mature, this Vanguard lettuce variety is a medium to large size with an attractive butt and midrib appearance. Big Star is recommended for the warmer areas of California as it copes well with long, hot days. It has excellent postharvest holding abilities.
Tehama is another of the lettuce varieties that do well with heat and thrives when planted in full sun. Growing in 55 to 68 days, this large, dark-green, vigorous green leaf variety can be sown directly as soon as the ground can be worked or sown indoors from seed before the last frost. Tehama lettuce is resistant to both tip burn and bolt and can be harvested all year round.
Tropicana lettuce is a bright green lettuce variety with attractive ruffles that look great in sandwiches and salads. Like the Big Star and Tehama lettuce varieties, Tropicana lettuce is tolerant to tip burn and also resists leaf scorch and corky root. Tropicana lettuce can be obtained in both organic and conventional versions and matures from seed in 55 days.
Red Leaf Varieties
Red leaf lettuce varieties provide a similar range of vitamins to green leaf lettuce varieties but are higher in Vitamin K and iron and lower in vitamins A and C. As far as their physical appearance, they have either green leaves with red tips or leaves that are entirely red. There are currently several varieties of red leaf lettuce available for sale as seeds, however, “Red Tide” is a variety that grows especially well in California.
Red Tide is referred to as the “industry standard” for growing lettuce because it has been grown here for more than 20 years. The attractive red leaf lettuce leaves have red and/or purple leaf margins, green midribs, and a green base. The flavor is described as buttery and soft and the leaves demonstrate good pliability. Red Tide lettuce matures in 60 days and can be planted and harvested all year ‘round. It is resistant to tip burn, making it suitable for warmer climates.
Butterhead lettuce varieties are named for their soft leaves that are buttery in both texture and taste. They are also referred to as “cabbage lettuce” because their appearance resembles cabbage. High in iron and vitamins A and K, butterhead lettuce varieties are perfect for adding to sandwiches or when used in wraps as a tortilla replacement.
Boston butterhead lettuce was developed in the United States from its earlier Mediterranean predecessor, Silesia. Boston lettuce has wide leaves that are light-green in color, making it one of the most iconic of the butterhead lettuce varieties available. Growing Boston lettuce takes around 50 to 60 days when planted from seed. It can be grown as an early, mid, or late-season crop.
Bibb butterhead lettuce was named after John Bibb, a cultivator who developed this variety from the earlier Boston butterhead. Bibb lettuce has smaller and softer leaves than Boston lettuce, with an attractive rose tinge that can present as stripes or large areas of color. Like Boston lettuce, Bibb lettuce matures in 50 to 60 days, although it is often harvested while slightly immature to keep the leaves especially soft.
Romaine or “cos” lettuce is one of the varieties of lettuce that is grown almost exclusively in the states of California and Arizona. Like green leaf and red leaf varieties, romaine lettuce is structurally sturdy and delivers a delightful crunch. Available in colors from green to purple, romaine lettuce is high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, as well as vitamins C, K, and folate. It’s well known for its use in Caesar salads and can also be used in sandwiches and wraps.
Green Towers is one of the most versatile romaine lettuce varieties — growing well in climates ranging from cool and moist to hot and dry. It has large, mild-tasting leaves that are a very intense green in color and develops full-sized heads. Green Towers lettuce is resistant to corky root and matures in approximately 60 days.
Triton is similar to Green Towers lettuce but with a greater intensity of color and taller size. It was developed by Harris Moran. Growing Triton lettuce is especially appealing for growers because of its denser foliage and greater weight. Because of these special characteristics, you can produce a greater volume of pre-cut lettuce per acre than you can with Green Towers lettuce.
Hone Your Niche with Fruit Growers Supply
If you’re interested in growing lettuce in California or increasing the range of lettuce varieties you produce, you can find all of the supplies you need at Fruit Growers Supply Company. Originally a citrus-focused company, we have expanded our range to cater to specialty growers with crop-specific irrigation design, custom-made corrugated boxes, and niche agricultural supplies.
Growing several lettuce varieties can ensure year-round income for your enterprise, and Fruit Growers Supply is here to help. Call us at 866-477-7414 to discuss your project or drop into any of our full-service stores, located in Orange Cove, Woodlake, Riverside, Porterville, and Santa Paula.