There's a growing interest worldwide to move the production of loose leaf lettuce and other greens (spinach, arugula, kale, etc.) from open fields into greenhouses. There is a wide range of vocabulary in use to describe the produce and the way it is grown: baby leaf, teen leaf, toddler leaf… "With the terminology used and everybody possibly understanding something a little different for some words, it is best to make things clear," says Kurt Cornelissen with Hortiplan.
Numbers say more than words
According to Kurt, the most important when designing a growing system for greens is to understand clearly what the customer wants to grow. "There are differences in what people may understand under the term' baby leaf lettuce'. In some countries, baby leaf lettuce means a leaf length of 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches), with 10 cm being a strictly imposed maximum size. In other countries, leaves of 12 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inches) are still categorized as 'baby leaf.' So instead of using terms like baby leaf, teen leaf, or toddler leaf, it is best to talk in terms of leaf length one wants to achieve."
How to grow
Having established what one wants to grow, you can look for the best possible approach how to grow the produce. Essentially, there are two approaches: seeding directly into a final growing medium or seeding to growing medium and having one transplant from a high to a lower plant density (by means of a transplanting robot).
"As with every choice in life, both choices come with pros and cons. Choosing the best approach depends on many factors: the length of the leaves, the mix of types and crops to be grown, etc. So there is no 'one approach fits all.'"
Do you want to learn about what might be the best solution for your case?
Hortiplan is present at Fruit Logistica (hall 3.2, booth A-38)
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