For players from the lettuce production chain, the annual Lettuce Demo Days is the place to be. In recent weeks, growers, processors, traders, retailers, and food suppliers have come to ’s Gravenzande from far and wide to get to know more about the most promising new lettuce varieties and developments. Vegetable breeding company BASFpresented its full commercial range of lettuce for the European market, including a number of promising newcomers.
BASF showed new varieties for both open-field and hydroponic cultivation.
Iceberg Lettuce Highlights
“In order to accommodate local temperature differences and different soil types, we always strive for considerable diversity in our offer,” explains Stefan Hermans, Account Manager Lettuce at BASF Vegetable Seeds. “However, we are always guided by our search for lettuce varieties with a stable round head, for thick-leaf varieties with a good balance between heart and leaves. These can be harvested earlier and are better protected against adverse weather conditions.
Two years ago, BASF introduced the promising iceberg variety Liberkin, which meets all these criteria. Not only does Liberkin have the desired stable round shape, which makes it very suitable for machine packaging, but last summer this variety proved stable even when subjected to prolonged extreme heat. “This allows us to say with complete conviction that the Liberkin is suitable for the entire summer season, in medium to heavy soil types.”
New in the range are the NUN 0224 LTL* and NUN 0227 LTL*. “NUN 0224 LTL* is very suitable for light to loamy soils and will be tested on a large scale throughout the summer period in 2019. Thanks to its compact round shape, this variety is ideal for packaging in 10-packs. NUN 0227 LTL* is a quick-filling medium to large type, suitable for the heavier soil types. Both varieties are characterized by their flat-round, closed base and thick leaves. They are suitable for both the fresh market and industry and are strong against bolting, inner tipburn and red veins.”
A new variety that will be available on a limited basis in 2019 is the NUN 0253 LTL*. “This variety, which also has a compact round shape, is particularly suitable for light sandy soils. Like the NUN 0224 LTL* and NUN 0227 LTL*, this variety is rapid filling and resistant to tipburn and bolting.”
New Variety of Butterhead Lettuce
In 2019, BASF will launch a new butterhead lettuce: NUN 04095 LTL*. “NUN 04095 LTL* is suitable for planting in both the spring and fall. With its beautiful head formation, flat base, and structure, this butterhead lettuce is ideal for two-layer packaging. The additional leaf layers provide better protection in situations with a high disease burden at the base of the plant,” says Stefan Hermans.
In addition to the open-field range, BASF presented various new products in the hydroponic lettuce range. “During the Lettuce Demo Days, we showed a full range of lettuce – including babyleaf and spinach – of all types on the two main cultivation systems in the market, the NFT and deep-flow growing beds with LED lighting,” says Peter Does, Account Manager Hydroponic Lettuce. New in the range are three new summer butterhead lettuce varieties for hydroponic cultivation: the smaller NOACH* for the compact lettuce market, the large NUN 02647 LTL* for the heavy lettuce market and, as an intermediate type, the NUN 02649 LTL*. “This past summer, all three varieties have proven to be resistant to bolting and tipburn. They withstood the hot, dry summer without problems. On top of that, the varieties are very suitable for growing under artificial lighting, including LED. This makes year-round cultivation possible,” says Peter Does. In addition to the three new butterhead varieties, BASF showed an extensive selection of new lettuce mixes for the Trio/multicolor lettuce range. “In addition to the compact standard mix (Multiblond 3, Multired 4, and Multired 80), we showed a faster, heavier winter mix (Multiblond 110, NUN 09144* LTL, and NUN 09145 LTL*), with retention of good color and balance between the three varieties in the pot. We also presented our Scandinavian mix with crisp lettuce, for that extra bite: Multiblond 110, Multired 80, and Danstar.”
New Cultivation and Harvesting Techniques
During the Lettuce Demo Days, BASF not only wants to provide information but receive it as well. That way they can keep on top of developments in the market. A major challenge facing the lettuce production chain in the coming years is the reduction of labor costs. This is why BASF is currently investigating various cultivation techniques to determine whether they may offer a solution without compromising the quality of the lettuce. The focus is on the extent to which horticulture can replace open-field cultivation and the impact this would have on mechanization and labor. Another project focuses on the harvesting and processing of iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce. This involves high-density direct sowing and/or planting of varieties with a texture and structure similar to those of iceberg and romaine lettuce. The tops of the plants are then mowed off and processed directly in the processing plant. During the Lettuce Demo Days, BASF introduced the concept to its target groups to gauge responses. BASF will use the new insights it gained to further develop innovative solutions for the lettuce production chain.
About BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division
With a rapidly growing population, the world is increasingly dependent on our ability to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture and healthy environments. Working with farmers, agricultural professionals, pest management experts and others, it is our role to help make this possible. That’s why we invest in a strong R&D pipeline and broad portfolio, including seeds and traits, chemical and biological crop protection, soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming. With expert teams in the lab, field, office and in production, we connect innovative thinking and down-to-earth action to create real world ideas that work – for farmers, society and the planet. In 2017, our division generated sales of €5.7 billion. For more information, please visit www.agriculture.basf.com or any of our social media channels.
At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The more than 115,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of €64.5 billion in 2017. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (BAS). Further information at www.basf.com