Lettuce Plan: Developing a Lettuce Program for your Region
Here at High Mowing we’re proud to offer an organic lettuce for almost every location, season and use. Whether it’s the middle of winter in Maine, a rainy spring in Oregon, a blistering Arizona summer, or even a trip to the International Space Station, we’ve got the lettuce to keep you in greens all year.
In this article we’ll recommend different varieties for each unique region and seasonal slot, and explain what factors you should consider when developing your own custom lettuce program. One of the things we love most about lettuce is that it grows so rapidly—since it generally reaches maturity in 25-50 days, you can start your lettuce program at almost any time of year—just make sure you have a market or use for hefty heads and bountiful baby lettuce.
Growing lettuce in the cool north is pretty easy all year round, which means that a wider variety of lettuces can be grown in all seasonal slots.
Spring - Look out for Bottom Rot and Downy Mildew in wet weather. Choose bolt-resistant varieties that can withstand prolonged wet conditions for the stressful transition from spring to summer.
Try: Magenta, Dark Lollo Rossa, Red Tide, Refugio, New Red Fire, Galactic, Waldmann’s, Oscarde, Bolsachica, Gaviota, Sulu, Regal Oak, Tango, Encino, Emerald Oak, Spock, Rhazes, Breen, Pomegranate Crunch, Outredgeous, Cimarron, Defender, Spretnak, Ansar, Aerostar, Winter Density, Coastal Star, Jericho, Green Towers, Kweik, Roxy, Balfour
Summer – Choose heat and bolt-resistant varieties such as Batavian or Summer Crisp types.
Try: Lovelock, Magenta, Red Tide, Vulcan, Dark Lollo Rossa, Refugio, New Red Fire, Red Sails, Galactic, Black Seeded Simpson, Waldmann’s, Two Star, Green Star, Bergam’s Green, Nevada, Bolsachica, Gaviota, Sulu, Regal Oak, Tango, Encino, Emerald Oak, Spock, Rhazes, Breen, Pomegranate Crunch, Outredgeous, Ansar, Aerostar, Freckles, Parris Island Cos, Jericho, Arroyo, Mirlo, Optima, Pirat
Fall – Choose varieties that hold their color well as light levels decrease and offer Downy Mildew resistance.
Try: Lettony, Red Salad Bowl, Red Oak Leaf, Oscarde, Blade, Sulu, Bolsachica, Gaviota, Sulu, Tango, Emerald Oak, Spock, Rhazes, Breen, Pomegranate Crunch, Rouge d’Hiver, Defender, Spretnak, Ansar, Aerostar, Australe, Kweik
Winter – Start winter lettuce plants between the end of August and end of September for transplanting into the greenhouse by mid-November at the latest for an early April harvest. Choose varieties that hold their color in low light, offer Downy Mildew resistance, and have exceptional frost tolerance.
Try: Red Tide, Two Star, Lettony, Blade, Red Salad Bowl, Red Oak Leaf, Sulu, Rhazes, Pomegranate Crunch, Spretnak, Winter Density. Please note that Breen, Emerald Oak & Rouge d’Hiver did not produce heads reliably in our overwintering trials here in Northern VT.
Growing lettuce in the south is very practical in fall, winter and spring, but may be more challenging in the summer. Inter-planting lettuce between taller crops that provide some shade can help prevent lettuce from bolting early and becoming bitter in the intense summer heat. Choose Batavian & Summer Crisp types for spring and summer plantings.
Spring – Choose heat and bolt-tolerant varieties with resistance to Downy Mildew and Bottom Rot, especially in areas with heavy soils.
Try: Lovelock, Magenta, Red Tide, New Red Fire, Black Seeded Simpson, Waldmann’s, Two Star, Green Star, Oscarde, Regal Oak, Encino, Rhazes, Spretnak, Parris Island Cos, Coastal Star, Green Towers, Arroyo, Australe, Mirlo, Optima, Roxy, Balfour
Summer – Choose extremely heat and bolt-tolerant varieties with resistance to Tip Burn. Please note that in the hottest parts of the south, growing lettuce in summer may not be possible without shade.
Fall – Choose heat and bolt-tolerant varieties with resistance to Bottom Rot, Tip Burn, and Downy Mildew.
Try: Lovelock, Magenta, New Red Fire, Black Seeded Simpson, Lettony, Green Star, Bergam’s Green, Nevada, Red Salad Bowl, Regal Oak, Encino, Red Oak Leaf, Sulu, Spretnak, Parris Island Cos, Optima, Pirat
Winter – Choose cold-tolerant varieties with strong resistance to Downy Mildew and Bottom Rot, especially in areas with heavy soils.
The cool, temperate nature of the Pacific Northwest is idea for growing lettuce nearly all year-round. However the cool climate combined with regular rains that occur from winter through early summer mean that Downy Mildew can be a persistent challenge. Since new Downy Mildew strains originate on the west coast, it’s important to plant varieties with resistance to all the most recent strains (1-31). The normally dry fall is the best time to plant varieties that do not offer this resistance.
Spring -- Plant in unheated greenhouses or low tunnels where plants will be protected from rain, or choose varieties that perform well in wet conditions outdoors. Select varieties with all 31 races of DM resistance.
Summer – Select bolt-tolerant varieties with strong resistance to Downy Mildew.
Fall – Select varieties with bolt-resistance and drought-tolerance.
Try: Magenta, Vulcan, New Red Fire, Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson, Two Star, Green Star, Bergam’s Green, Nevada, Red Salad Bowl, Oscarde, Red Oak Leaf, Bolsachica, Sulu, Regal Oak, Spock, Rhazes, Defender, Spretnak, Outredgeous, Australe, Kweik, Pirat, Balfour
Winter – Plant in unheated greenhouses or low tunnels where plants will be protected from rain, and select varieties with strong Downy Mildew resistance.
Did you think we were kidding? We weren’t. We are thrilled that of all the lettuces on the planet, NASA has chosen Outredgeous, an intensely red romaine created by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds, to represent Earth lettuces in the International Space Station. The variety has unique characteristics they like, like growing well in a zero-gravity environment, and contributing a hefty dose of vitamins to the astronauts’ diet. Thanks to special wicking soil pouches that feed the plants while preventing water from floating away, the ISS residents can finally eat a proper meal in orbit.