BASF has developed a series of Iceberg lettuce varieties that allow collecting them mechanically, thus giving the Iceberg variety a new boost.
The company, which operates in the market of horticultural seeds under its Nunhems brand, held a demonstration on February 2, within the framework of its Lettuce & Spinach Demo Field Days 2023, which will be held until Thursday the 9, at its research center in La Palma (Cartagena, Murcia).
BASF successfully mechanically harvested Iceberg lettuce in front of dozens of professionals in the sector, including some of the main leaf-crop producers and marketers. "We have achieved a high efficiency in the percentage of well-cut products in the harvest," stated Vicente Garin, BASF Salads Global Product Specialist, after the demonstration.
To achieve this, the seed house has developed a series of elongated neck varieties, i.e. that have a stem that is nearly 2 centimeters longer than traditional ones, which allows cutting the lettuce mechanically without damaging the product. These materials are more uniform and can be grown at a higher density, in pots. In addition, they can be used both for the fresh market and for processing, as the quality of the final product is equal to a traditional Iceberg.
BASF thus responds to two of the main problems facing the fruit and vegetable sector in general and the lettuce sector in particular: on the one hand, the lack of labor and, on the other, the need to reduce costs.
After the demonstration, Garin stated that in 2024, they will have four commercial varieties to cover the autumn, winter, and spring cycles. They will begin to carry out large-scale trials starting from the next campaign.
Solutions for the entire chain
Currently, the Iceberg and Romaine lettuce varieties are the most used for processing so they have enormous market potential, Garin stated. The Romaine lettuce is already mechanically harvested. However, the Iceberg's morphology (round and closer to the ground) had made it difficult to mechanize this process so far. With these new varieties, BASF responds to a clear demand from the production sector, which needs varieties that allow it to obtain the maximum yields possible while reducing costs.
For more information:
Nunhems Spain S.A.U.
Tel.: +34 950 497 776