Choosing a substrate for lettuce, greens production

American-hydroponics-lettuce-substratesBy David Kuack

Since lettuce, greens and microgreens are relatively short term crops compared to other greenhouse vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, a grower has to make sure that he starts out with a consistent substrate and quality seed. Sylvain Helie, an agronomist and phytotechnologist at Jiffy Products of America, said one of the key factors in growing lettuce, greens and microgreens is having a good seed supplier.
“Before a grower chooses a substrate he has to know his market,” Helie said. “Is he going to sell to retailers like grocery stores or to restaurants? Market dictates what and how the crops will be grown. If a grower is working with chefs, they are likely going to provide the grower with feedback as to the type of crops and packaging they need. The proactive grower is not only going to provide his customers with what they want, but is also going to supply them with new plants to sample.”
Helie said growers should pay particular attention to new varieties coming from the United Kingdom and Europe. “It’s very similar to what is happening with new flower varieties from Proven Winners,” he said. “A grower of greens and microgreens won’t survive if he doesn’t have new varieties. The grower has to know what’s new as well as what novelties are available. To be able to do this the grower has to have a reliable and innovative seed supplier. If a grower is supplying chefs with greens, he has to be able to offer them
different, attractive colors—greens, yellows, reds.”

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